After Jackson: Cleveland's Next Mayor - Episode 9: Closing Arguments

Mayoral candidate and former U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich runs toward the reviewing stands at the 11th Congressional District Labor Day Parade in Cleveland.
Mayoral candidate and former U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich runs toward the reviewing stands at the 11th Congressional District Labor Day Parade in Cleveland. [Nick Castele / Ideastream Public Media]
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After Jackson: Cleveland's Next Mayor Podcast

This is our last episode before the polls close on Sept.14.

With just about a week until Election Day, the seven candidates in the mayoral primary descended on Kinsman Road for the 11th Congressional District Labor Day Parade.

It's Cleveland’s marquee campaign event, with a history reaching back 50 years to the days when Carl and Louis Stokes built a political stronghold for the city’s Black community.

The day draws candidates for judge, council, mayor, governor – and even president. In 2016, Hillary Clinton held a rally at the end of the parade route at Luke Easter Park.

This is one of the mayoral candidates' last big chances to get in front of a crowd of potential voters.

Today, we’ll talk about who votes and who doesn’t vote in primaries like these. Plus, a look at a political action committee that’s scraping by with little money, and an exploration of equity in Cleveland parks.

When you chat with people about the Cleveland mayor’s race, two questions often come up. First: who do you think makes it out of the primary? And second: how many people do you think will show up?

There are 247,610 registered voters in the city today. If the past is any guide, maybe around 33,000 to 40,000 will cast votes.

Many will come from a few turnout-leading neighborhoods: West Park and Old Brooklyn on the West Side, and Lee-Harvard on the East Side.

And – again, if the past is any guide – they’ll probably be older. If you pull a registered voter list from the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections, and you look at the Clevelanders who are still registered today and who voted in the municipal primary four years ago, the median birth year is 1957. They’re turning 64 this year.

A local coalition has come together to develop a platform calling for more equitable access to parks and outdoor spaces. They say neighborhoods with lower incomes and more minority residents often lack access to well-maintained facilities.

Take for example, Meyer pool in Cleveland's Clark-Fulton neighborhood. It’s surrounded by concrete and a few chairs for lifeguards. A mural of an octopus decorates the outside of the bathrooms, but otherwise, there’s no grass, no shade and no chairs.

“The pool is well used, but there it's not a great spot for kids,” says Tiffany Graham Charkosky, senior project director for LAND Studio.

A public pool surrounded by concrete and a chain link fence in Cleveland's Clark-Fulton neighborhood.

“The space that we're in predates the ‘80s and also has not been improved in at least 30 years,” says Tiffany Graham Charkosky. [Taylor Haggerty / Ideastream Public Media]

She says they’ve been working with Cleveland's landscape architect to consider improvements for the pool, like a splash pad or a play area for smaller children.

The Clark-Fulton neighborhood has one of the lowest ratios of green space per capita, according to a study done in 2019 by the Trust for Public Land. The area could use attention, Charkosky says, and it’s needed it for decades.

Follow “After Jackson: Cleveland's Next Mayor” on NPR One, iTunes or on your favorite podcast platform. Or catch it every Wednesday at 9 a.m. on the “Sound of Ideas” on 90.3 WCPN.

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