After Jackson - Episode 2: Dennis Kucinich And Justin Bibb

Cleveland mayoral candidates Dennis Kucinich and Justin Bibb at a debate in Cleveland's West Park neighborhood on July 8.
Cleveland mayoral candidates Dennis Kucinich and Justin Bibb at a debate in Cleveland's West Park neighborhood on July 8. [Nick Castele / Ideastream Public Media]
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At the end of June, each of the candidates for mayor sat down at the Idea Center to talk about the issues: Public safety, police oversight, housing, schools, the economy and more.

For the next three episodes, we’ll hear excerpts of those interviews and get to know the candidates. First up: Dennis Kucinich and Justin Bibb.

If you’ve read any news about Dennis Kucinich this year, you’ll know two things. One, he’s running for Cleveland mayor more than 40 years after his first stint at the job. And two, he just wrote a book.

It’s called “The Division of Light and Power.” In it, Kucinich recounts his two-year term as mayor, and especially his battle to preserve Cleveland’s public electric company, Cleveland Public Power, or Muny Light.

Kucinich is different from the other candidates for mayor this year. Not just because he’s the oldest at age 74, but because he got started in politics so young. He was first elected to Cleveland City Council in 1969, when he was just 23 years old. He was elected mayor eight years later.

In his bid to return to the mayor’s office after four decades, he’s talking a lot about crime.

“I intend to bring to City Hall a new approach in not just creating a civic peace department, but in taking an approach that relates to restorative justice,” he said in his interview at the Idea Center. “We cannot solve every problem with guns. I mean, on either side.”

Dennis Kucinich talks with Nick Castele

Kucinich says he is not a fan of the current trend of tax incentives and tax increment financing for development projects. “You cannot keep giving away money that the city needs to be able to provide services,” he said in an interview with "After Jackson" host Nick Castele. [Gabriel Kramer / Ideastream Public Media]

Kucinich was 31 when he became Cleveland mayor. Justin Bibb is only slightly older. At age 34, Bibb’s campaign slogan is “Cleveland can’t wait.”

It’s a pre-buttal, if you will, to questions about his lack of experience in elected office. Questions like, "Why don’t you start smaller, pay your dues, learn the ropes?"

His slogan offers an answer: Cleveland can’t wait.

“We can't afford to go, you know, 40 plus years back in time. And we can't afford just a steady hand right now,” he said. “I believe it's time for new, bold, dynamic, fresh leadership. And I believe I'm the right leader for the right time.”

Justin Bibb

Bibb, who served on the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority board, wants to upgrade Cleveland's parking meters to smart meters and use the revenue in part to fund public transit. [Gabriel Kramer / Ideastream Public Media]

 

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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