Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson greets his supporters after filing 9,000 petitions at the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections on June 28 to run for his unprecedented for fourth term for mayor. (PHOTOS KENNETH D. MILLER)
For months a crowded field of Cleveland mayoral candidates had the platform all to themselves, but that all changed last week when incumbent Mayor Frank G. Jackson filed his petitions for and unprecedented fourth term.
Although it had long since been rumored that Jackson would seek to retain office, he did not complete the official paperwork at the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections until close to the deadline on June 28.
It all began with a spirited rally on 93rd and Kinsman on a vacant lot on spotted grass and cracked pavement.
Councilman Ken Johnson, a 40 year ally of Jackson, said of his long time friend; “He does not have an agenda, for higher office than where he’s serving. He has the understanding of the future of this town is with young people.”
Johnson joined with scores of Jackson’s supporters caravanned to the County Board of Elections, where Jackson toted his bulky envelope of 9,000 signatures to officially declare his candidacy.
“My-my- my! Isn’t that something? I think it (9,000 signatures) speaks to the fact the mayor is really leading and we are on our way for great things in Cleveland. That’s what this is about continuing what’s best for our city going forward,” stated Rev. Emmitt Theophilus Caviness, who has leads Cleveland's historic Greater Abyssinia Baptist Church in Glenville.
He was joined by his family, included his treasured grandchildren, up the stairs onto the elevator and to the counter where he presented a $45 check that validated his run for a historical fourth term.
Two days later, Jackson would host the grand opening of his campaign office on Carnegie. It was only then that the 70-year-old public servant offered some reflection on his incredible journey. He is the first sitting member of Cleveland City Council to become mayor since Stephen Buhrer in 1867.
The son of an African-American father and an Italian-American mother he grew up in the Kinsman and Central neighborhoods where he still lives today.
“I live in Cleveland and I’ve been living in Cleveland all my life. What impacts other people, impacts my family and me. I stay right down the street on 38th and Central and if there is violence it affects my family, if there’s drugs it affects my family. Whatever is going on it affect me personally. So I take the leadership of this city personally and I take the condition of people’s lives personally,” Jackson explained t the Call & Post.
He pointed to an occasions when he was visiting subsidize housing and he was talking to some young women there.
“It really bothered me some of the things they were saying and I am not divorced or separated from that, so I want to continue stabilizing the patient when the city of Cleveland was in bad shape, the second term was the lay of a solid foundation to build on and the third term and now I’m in the fourth term to make sure that all of the good things happening in Cleveland is equitable for everyone.”
It was not lost on Jackson that his road was paved by the iconic Stokes brothers, Mayor Carl Stokes became the first Black mayor in an American city, and Congressman Louis Stokes is a standard bearer for elected officials both Black or white throughout the nation.
“I feel a sense of responsibly not only to those leaders who have sacrificed so that somebody like me can be mayor and there are people who don’t have much notoriety, but they put in a lot of work and they gave up a lot so someone like me can be mayor. So I feel a sense of responsibility and obligation and duty to that. However, I intensely feel an obligation and duty to the people, the people that we are serving,” said the Mayor.
For Mayor Jackson he feels more indebted to the people of Cleveland.
“I’m here not because I’m so great, I am part of lineage of Black leadership in the city of Cleveland and because I got here based on what other people did so I can be here, I owe a debt. I we a debt to them even though they are no longer around and I owe a debt to the people who are relying on us to find a solution and to make sure they are treated equitably.”