Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Jeff Johnson wants to be mayor; Nina Turner says, 'Never say never'

“If somebody asks me, ‘Would you like to be mayor of Cleveland?’ I tell them, ‘Yes, I would,’ ” city councilman Jeff Johnson says in my new profile of him. “The best thing I can do is do a good job in Ward 10 [and] be rewarded with serious consideration.”

Johnson has pulled off the biggest comeback in Cleveland politics since Dennis Kucinich went to Congress. In 1999, an extortion conviction seemed to end his career. But he’s worked his way back to city council and won reelection in November, defying gerrymandered ward lines that threatened to do him in.

In the January issue of Cleveland Magazine, Johnson, 55, talks with me about his past, his future, and how city council and the East Side are different now than in the ‘80s. You can read my profile of Johnson here.

Cleveland isn’t looking for a new mayor, of course. Frank Jackson was sworn in for a third term yesterday. But Jackson, 67, told me last year, “I would have retired but for the school effort.” Few expect him to run for a fourth term in 2017. So who are the younger politicians who could step into leadership?

Elsewhere in the January issue, I ask state senator Nina Turner if she, too, would like to be mayor someday. “Never say never!” she says. “I love the city of Cleveland. I’m a daughter of the city.” Any 2017 ambitions are far away for her; she’s already running for Ohio secretary of state this year against Jon Husted. But if she loses that race, Turner, 46, could be free to take a shot at succeeding Jackson. And my guess is she’d be more likely than Johnson to get Jackson’s endorsement.

Turner’s one of our Most Interesting People for 2014. In this issue, I also talk with her about her family, the history classes she teaches at Cuyahoga Community College, and her co-sponsorship of Jackson’s plan to reform the Cleveland schools. You can read my piece about her here.

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