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Councilman Basheer Jones Announces Mayoral Campaign: “You Know Me”

Ward 7 Cleveland City Councilman Basheer Jones was a featured speaker at the "Stand in Solidarity" march in the East Side neighborhood of Hough in June 2020. [Gabriel Kramer / ideastream]
Ward 7 Cleveland City Councilman Basheer Jones with a microphone addressing a crowd from a stage

Cleveland City Councilman Basheer Jones joined the race for mayor Thursday, announcing his campaign to supporters from the steps of the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections.

Jones represents Ward 7, which includes Cleveland’s Hough, Asiatown and St. Clair-Superior neighborhoods. He first won election in 2017, defeating incumbent T.J. Dow and becoming city council’s first Muslim member.

At his campaign launch, Jones said he would work to improve safety, transparency and the administration’s relationship with both residents and local businesses.

“I love Cleveland so much. I love the people so much. And you don’t deserve what you’ve been receiving,” Jones said. “You don’t deserve leadership that has forgotten you and doesn’t listen to your voice. That’s the reason why Cleveland has continued to fail, because they’ve forgotten the people.”

The city has lost touch with its residents, Jones said. It needs strong, energetic leadership to make much-needed changes, he said. That includes addressing needs for new equipment among police, fire and emergency services, community policing initiatives and focusing on rehabilitation rather than incarceration for those experiencing substance abuse.

“As we emerge from the challenges of the past year, we have a very special opportunity to foster new ideas, new hope, new determination, new leadership, to create a city of our dreams,” Jones said. “I am clear that this task is not the task for one person. We must all commit to making this a better Cleveland.”

Jones has garnered more than 5,000 signatures in support of his candidacy, he said. During his speech, he highlighted his experiences as a Cleveland native, particularly the time he spent living in homeless shelters during his childhood.

Jones wants to bring those connections to the community with him into his administration, he said.

“You know me. They’re surprised, but you’re not surprised,” Jones said to his gathered supporters. “You’re not surprised about this work that we’re doing, because you’ve known me since I was a child, and that’s why we’re still here.”

In addition to Jones, the list of mayoral candidates now includes state Sen. Sandra Williams, Cleveland City Council President Kevin Kelley, former city councilman Zack Reed and Justin Bibb, a former RTA board member who now works for a civic technology nonprofit.

Four-term incumbent Mayor Frank Jackson announced Thursday evening he will not seek a fifth term.

Nick Castele was a senior reporter covering politics and government for Ideastream Public Media. He worked as a reporter for Ideastream from 2012-2022.