What all 7 Cleveland mayoral candidates had to say about their vaccination policies and status

Cleveland Mayoral Primary
Posted at 10:55 PM, Aug 31, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-03 13:18:54-04

Editor's note: We have updated this story with new information released by both the Kucinich and Jones campaigns.

Five of seven Cleveland mayoral candidates said they have received the COVID-19 vaccination, and, as mayor, they would encourage others to get vaccinated, too.

In a one-on-one interview with News 5 Chief Investigator Ron Regan conducted on Wed., Aug. 25 -- an interview Regan did with each candidate that covered a number of topics such as eviction -- Cleveland City Councilman Basheer Jones said he hadn't received a COVID-19 vaccine yet but was planning to do so.

Basheer Jones
Basheer Jones, Cleveland City Councilman

Ron Regan: "We still have a lot of folks who are not vaccinated. How would you change that?"

Basheer Jones: "You know, people have to make a decision what's best for their health."

Ron Regan: "You wouldn't be in favor of mandatory vaccinations?"

Basheer Jones: "I think that every person has to make a decision what's best for their health and best for their family. And I have faith that people will make those."

Ron Regan: "Are you vaccinated?"

Basheer Jones: "I'm going to be getting vaccinated. But not yet."

Ron Regan: "What held you back?"

Basheer Jones: "You know, I want to make sure that my elders get it, want to make sure that my children get it. I want to make sure the people of my community had access to it. So it wasn't something that I wanted to rush and make sure of."

At 36 years old, Jones has been eligible for the vaccine since March 29.

On Friday, four days after our report aired, the Jones campaign sent a statement saying the candidate had been vaccinated:

“I chose to get vaccinated after careful consideration and conversation with my family and health care provider. The risk-benefit balance led to my decision to get vaccinated. As I’ve said, it’s a choice every person should make on their own that should not be rushed.”

The statement included a photo of Jones holding a vaccination card, which we have blurred.

At 74, Dennis Kucinich has been eligible since February 1. The former Cleveland mayor, when interviewed by News 5 on Aug. 25, did not share his vaccination status or provide any indication about his COVID-19 policies.

The morning after this report aired on News 5 at 11, the Kucinich campaign released a letter from his doctor saying he has an unnamed "underlying chronic health condition." Dr. David F. Perse's letter says Kucinich is in "excellent health," and he will "assess other evolving treatment options, upon their approval through federal health agencies, including vaccine options available later this year."

Read the updated letter (we explain here why it's updated) the campaign sent out today here.

Dennis Kucinich
Dennis Kucinich, former Cleveland Mayor

When we originally asked about "mandatory vaccinations," Kucinich responded, "I'm not going to go there."

In a follow-up question asking if Kucinich was vaccinated, the candidate said, "I'm not going to go there because I'm not going to use what I have done or haven't done."

On Wednesday, when the Kucinich campaign released the letter from his doctor, a campaign spokesman said Kucinich is tested regularly, and, "He encourages everyone who is medically eligible for a COVID-19 vaccination to be vaccinated, in accordance with their physician’s medical guidance and advice."

RELATED: ‘Underlying chronic health condition’ accounts for Kucinich's vaccination status, says his doctor

The five other candidates all said they were vaccinated and encourage others to do so.

All of the interviews with the candidates were conducted between Aug. 24-26.

Zack Reed said he intends to lead by example and got two shots of the vaccine. He said he will continue to encourage Clevelanders to get vaccinated but has "no intent on mandating vaccinations."

Zack Reed
Zack Reed

State Sen. Sandra Williams said she encourages others to get vaccinated, but also "encourages them, if they have any hesitation, to contact their health care provider."

Sandra Williams
State Senator Sandra Williams

Ross DiBello said he would "absolutely create opportunities for Clevelanders to get vaccinated."

Ross DiBello
Ross DiBello

City Council President Kevin Kelley called vaccinations a "miracle of science" and "our biggest weapon to fight this." Kelley said, as public officials, "we need to do everything we can to get as many people vaccinated."

Kevin Kelley
Kevin Kelley, Cleveland City Council President

Both Kelley and Justin Bibb laid out a plans to go to churches, community centers, libraries and barbershops to make the vaccines more readily available.

Justin Bibb
Justin Bibb

"I think we've dropped the ball in this city in terms of giving people the confidence that they need and the information that they need to get vaccinated," said Bibb. "We can't get our economy moving again and get towards a more prosperous economic recovery until we get out of this pandemic."

RELATED: Why we asked the Cleveland mayoral candidates about their vaccination status