Former Cleveland Mayor Jane Campbell Endorses Justin Bibb

Cleveland mayoral candidate Justin Bibb with former Cleveland Mayor Jane Campbell
Former Cleveland Mayor Jane Campbell endorses Justin Bibb for mayor at a West Park meet and greet. [Nick Castele / Ideastream Public Media]

After Jackson: Cleveland's Next Mayor Podcast

Updated: 8:36 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 23, 2021

Former Cleveland Mayor Jane Campbell returned to town Thursday and endorsed Justin Bibb’s bid for the job she once held at City Hall.

Campbell led the city from 2002 to 2006 and is the only woman to have been elected mayor of Cleveland. She met with Bibb and neighbors at a home in West Park on Thursday night.

“I think it’s time that we pass the torch to the next generation,” Campbell said.

Campbell called being mayor “the hardest job ever” and said the city needs a leader who can listen to competing views from knowledgeable advisors.

“Ultimately, we want someone who can lead and who can build a vision of hope,” she said, “and I believe that Justin Bibb is going to be able to do that.”

The former mayor said she had been following the race from Washington, D.C., where she now works as the president and CEO of the United States Capitol Historical Society. She said Bibb called her early in the campaign to ask for her support. Ultimately she did not make an endorsement in the primary.

After the Sept. 14 primary, in which Bibb finished first, Campbell agreed to endorse him, she said.

“I think when you see someone put a campaign together, you have an insight into how they’re going to put together an administration,” she said, likening assembling a campaign team to running a start-up business. “So I watched, and I saw Justin do an extraordinary job.”

Campbell is the second former mayor to endorse Bibb. The 34-year-old first-time candidate won the backing of former Mayor Michael R. White before the primary. Mayor Frank Jackson, who defeated Campbell in the 2005 mayoral race, is supporting Council President Kevin Kelley.

Only one living Cleveland mayor has not picked a candidate in the general election: Dennis Kucinich, who finished third in last week’s primary.

Campbell was a Democratic Cuyahoga County commissioner when she ran for mayor in 2001, the last time the city held a mayoral race with no incumbent. She emerged from a crowded primary to defeat Raymond Pierce, a former Clinton administration staffer, in the general election.

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