CLEVELAND — For the first time since 2001 there will not be an incumbent mayor of Cleveland on the ballot, but there will be plenty of hopefuls looking to add the word incumbent to their future resume. The filing deadline for the September primary passed Tuesday afternoon with three more candidates filing their required petitions with 3,000 voter signatures.
“We got a lot going on here,” Cleveland Councilman Basheer Jones told the clerk at the counter as he presented 6,000 signatures, double the required number. “It’s been a beautiful journey so far, we’re excited about where it will go."
Also filing on the last day was Cuyahoga County Deputy Sheriff Landry Simmons.
“We can do better as a people, as a community, as a city,” Landry said after submitting 5,000 signatures.
Then, just after 2 p.m., the final candidate to announce a run showed up to file his paperwork—former Mayor Dennis Kucinich.
“This campaign is about making Cleveland a safe city again, it’s about making Cleveland a peaceful city, it’s about making sure that no one in any neighborhood need ever fear walking the streets at any time of day or night,” Kucinich said.
The three final candidates join State Senator Sandra Williams, former Councilman Zack Reed, Businessman Justin Bibb, Attorney Ross DiBello and Council President Kevin Kelley on the September primary ballot. Each with their own base of support but bases that overlap other candidates.
“I don’t think there is a clear front runner no matter what the polls say,” Jones said.
So while the past five of these elections were dominated by Frank Jackson, this one looks to be wide open, according to News 5 Political Analyst Dr. Tom Sutton of Baldwin Wallace University.
“Makes for a very competitive race across the city and really throws up in the air the idea that anyone could be certain as a finalist in the final two come primary day,” Sutton said.
Consider this: The last time the mayor’s seat was open in 2001 the top two vote-getters that faced off in November—Jane Campbell and Raymond Pierce—had 24,453 and 23,457 votes respectively. In 2017 Frank Jackson and Zack Reed finished in the top two, they only received 12,969 and 7,378 votes to get there.
In a city of 248,000 registered voters the key will be identifying the voters and getting them to the polls.