The outside temperatures might cool for early summer, but climate is heating-up in the race for Cleveland Mayor during the final days before signatures must be filed with the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections.
As indicated at VFW Post 2850 in Cleveland during a public discussion by the six of the candidates this could become one of the most hotly contested mayoral races in recent memory.
There are three African American candidates among the crowed field vying to unseat incumbent Mayor Frank Jackson.
Candidates Councilman Jeff Johnson, Councilman Zack Reed, former East Cleveland Mayor Eric Brewer, EDWINS Leadership and Restaurant Institute Founder Brandon Chrostowski, Fresh Brewed Tees founder Tony Madalone, Ohio City businessman and community relations consultant Robert Kilo met at Clark-Fulton neighborhood to introduce themselves to voters and to answer questions from the Cuyahoga County Progressive Caucus and the Ward 14 Democratic Club, which co-hosted.
Mayor Frank Jackson declined an invitation and did not attend the forum, but has announced he will seek a fourth four-year term in office that could make him the longest-serving mayor in Cleveland's history. However, Jackson has yet checked out nominating petitions.
Candidates are required submit the signatures of at least 3,000 Clevelanders who are registered to vote. The nominating petitions must be filed with the Cuyahoga County elections board by June 29.
Mayor Jackson has long since had his signatures in tow and is expected to easily reach the required threshold.
A non-partisan primary to determine the top two candidates will be held Sept. 12. and both will advance from the primary to the Nov. 8 general election.
Council members Johnson and Reed are not allowed to run for both offices and by declaring for mayor will lose their council seats according to regulations.
While, Mayor Jackson was absent from the forum, the challengers voiced their displeasure with the mayor, arguing that during his leadership the city has been out of touch with constituents and declared that he does not deserve to be reelected.
Cleveland City Councilman Johnson was among the impressive candidates during the forum, while Councilman Reed promoted his campaign slogan "Nothing stops a bullet like a job."
The two-hour event was not framed as a "debate," but it offered a glimpse of what is to come in the ensuing months and brash former East Cleveland Mayor Brewer is considered a major player.