Dennis Kucinich weighs run for Cleveland mayor 44 years after he first won the post

Posted at 5:54 PM, Feb 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-16 17:54:39-05

CLEVELAND — In the fabric of Cleveland politics over the last 50 years Dennis Kucinich has been the common thread. Elected to city council in 1969 while he was still in college, then elected the youngest mayor of a major city in 1977 at age 31. He would also spend time as a state senator, clerk of courts, U.S. Congressman, and presidential hopeful, now at 74, he's considering a run once again for Cleveland mayor.

"I live here, I care about what's going on,” Kucinich said. “I see the increase in poverty and crime and I'm concerned and so I'm absolutely thinking about it."

His decision to run or not he said will have nothing to do with who else decides to get in the race or fundraising it will depend on what he says he hears from the voters.

"Campaigns are about the people of the community so I'm spending time speaking with people across the city on mediums like this and having the opportunity to hear what they have to say about it,” he said adding there are family considerations as well.

“It's not a question of fundraising and it wouldn't matter who else is in the race. My considerations are personal, the effect that a campaign has on family members, the sacrifice that people have to make in order to participate in a campaign.”

Kucinich just completed a book titled “The Division of Power and Light,” about his biggest battle as mayor when, with the city in default, he refused to sell Cleveland Public Power to pay down the debt.

“That book is the story of an extraordinary journey and battle to save an electric system and what the implications were and are for the people of our community,” he said. “I think for the first time people are going to see what really happened and the role that all of the institutions in the community played.”

“That book is really an epic story about a young mayor who took a stand and I put my career on the line for the people of the city. I didn't know there would ever be a political tomorrow for me when I said no to Cleveland Trust's demand that I sell Muni Light or else all I was thinking about was do I take a stand for the people or do I do what's best for me. If you're in public life you have to be ready to what's best for the people and forget about your own narrow concerns of career and things like that. That's why I did it. So am I proud of taking a stand? Yes, absolutely,” he said.

He says economic growth is critical not just downtown but in the neighborhoods. That being said News 5 asked Kucinich if it was possible for someone who has been doing this for 50 years to bring new ideas to a city like Cleveland?

"Well there are some who said I was 50 years ahead of my time, I'm right on time, and not only that you think of the wealth of experience that I bring. You know you get on an airplane you want an experienced pilot and if you're going to have surgery you want a surgeon who is going to be trying to think what's the next move,” he said. "There's no one around who has that kind of experience.”

Kucinich will likely decide he said in the spring what his decision will be. The filing deadline is in June for the September primary. While a host of potential candidates are also considering it, only RTA Board Member Justin Bibb has announced. Cleveland Council President Kevin Kelley is conducting a virtual listening tour as he weighs a run. There’s still no word from the current holder of the seat, four-term Mayor Frank Jackson whether he’ll seek a fifth term.