WASHINGTON, D.C. — For newly elected Cleveland Mayor Justin Bibb the six weeks since winning the seat have been filled with meetings of all types mainly across the city he will soon lead but his meetings Tuesday took place at a different address, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
"It was awe-inspiring," Bibb said of walking into the White House. "You dream about the moment to be able to walk into the West Wing with the president as a kid who loved following government and politics and to get that kind of time with President Biden as well as Vice President Harris truly was a dream come true for me."
Bibb's only other visit to the White House came as a student in college at American University when he took part in a tour that was offered. "But never got an intimate tour of the West Wing before."
He was one of 10 newly elected mayors invited to the White House to meet with administration officials, cabinet members like HUD Secretary and former Northeast Ohio Congresswoman Marcia Fudge.
"Secretary Fudge sends her regards to all of the residents across Cuyahoga County and they are looking at us to make sure that we can get this moment right to ensure that Cleveland can be a great American city once again."
President Joe Biden was not originally part of the mayor's agenda but as Bibb mentioned, spent some time with them at the end of their day.
"The biggest thing he told us mayors is that being the mayor is probably the best job in American politics but it's also the hardest because voters know where you live, they have your phone number and they want immediate action," Bibb said.
When mayors new and old go to a place like the White House it's usually in hopes of returning to their cities with a few extra Federal dollars in tow. For Bibb and Cleveland, it's a little different as the city is currently on the receiving end of over a half-billion dollars in American Rescue Plan money. The eighth most of any city in the country, setting Bibb up for a start on solid footing.
"We're going to be well-positioned, as we begin to take office in January, to finally make some very focused and strategic investments around many of the structural issues that have plagued Cleveland for far too long. Everything from digital divide to making sure we can eradicate our lead paint crisis, to ensuring that forgotten neighborhoods, particularly in the southeast side, get its fair share because those communities were hit hardest, the most during this pandemic. And for us to truly have an inclusive comeback we got to invest in those communities across our city."