When Cleveland Mayor Frank G. Jackson steps out of City Hall for the last time later this year, at the end of his historic 16-year term, it will actually be the end of a “Jackson Era.” âmuch longer in Cleveland politics – one spanning more than three influential decades. His activism began in Central, one of Cleveland’s poorest neighborhoods, but led to over 15 years as a member and later chairman of city council and culminated as mayor of four terms including the numbers unbalanced re-elections suggested that the mayor’s office was his to ask, as long as he wanted.
Some would argue that Jackson wanted the mayor’s office to be too long a term. His fourth term, when he perhaps hoped to build on his accomplishments in Cleveland’s school reform, police reform, poverty improvement, inclusive growth, new anchor neighborhoods like MidTown and a growing population of young professionals, has instead been weighed down by unexpected setbacks, including personal and pandemic challenges.
Jackson is by nature an optimistic and forward-looking man, and he has never lost his zeal for leadership and stewardship, but in recent years it sometimes feels like someone is looking forward to him. to slow down. And to top it off, the successor he hoped to follow him into the mayor’s office following his capable and engaged tenure as city council chairman – Kevin Kelley – was resoundingly defeated on November 2 by voters in Cleveland. in what might be seen as a rebuke from Jackson himself.
But was it a reproach? Or just a craving for something different?
Jackson is that extremely rare politician who was only looking to serve his community, his people, to fulfill his urban vision, his hopes for his hometown, including the central district that he hardly ever left except to serve. during the Vietnam War. He emphasized the essential, keeping the city solvent, its streets plowed, its schools in progress. But in recent years, he’s introduced more cutting-edge and progressive themes into his State of the City speeches – for an economic model based on equity and inclusion, for lifting the Clevelanders out of poverty and in a life of good health, education, advancement And hope. In this, one could even say that Frank Jackson was ahead of his time.
So what will our Editorial Board roundtable members remember most about Frank G. Jackson? What will we celebrate about his tenure? What will we be missing? And what is this characteristic of its town hall that stands out?
Leila Atassi, Executive Producer, Public Interest and Advocacy:
Frank Jackson has accomplished something few politicians can claim: he has led a decades-long career in public service without being corrupted by the power of his office. Long after these winds of change brought him into retirement, Jackson will be remembered for leading the city with integrity and for his unwavering commitment to doing good for “the least of us.”
Thomas Suddes, columnist:
The mayor served with dignity and grace, and for that he deserves the thanks of every Clevelander.
Ted Diadiun, columnist:
Frank Jackson was mayor for so long that it became easy to take his honesty, integrity, selflessness and other admirable human qualities for granted. I didn’t agree with all the decisions he made, but if the worst thing you can say about someone is that they are too loyal to their friends, family and subordinates, it is a legacy worth leaving behind.
Eric Foster, columnist:
Frank Jackson has his critics, but no one serves so many sentences without broad community support. If, as Muhammad Ali said, “Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on Earth,” Mayor Jackson certainly paid his rent, while probably subsidizing others’ rent along the way. . Thank you for your service, Mr. Mayor, and good luck.
Lisa Garvin, Editorial Board Member:
Cleveland isn’t always an easy city to love, but Frank Jackson’s affection for our bustling market town has always been evident. I only lived through the last five years of his tenure and saw a man exhausted by the frustrations of trying to solve Cleveland’s lingering problems: lead, poverty, and affordable housingâ¦ but resolved nonetheless. Her dedication – and love – is undisputed.
Victor Ruiz, member of the editorial board:
I have always admired Mayor Jackson’s dedication and hands-on approach to complex issues. Of all his accomplishments, his efforts to provide all of Cleveland’s children with a quality education are most important. While we still don’t have an education system that provides everyone with the education they deserve, I can’t imagine where we would be without it.
Mary Cay Doherty, Editorial Board Member:
“It’s like that.” With this philosophy, Frank Jackson pragmatically recognized the obstacles to success as he worked for change. Many politicians nostalgically paint utopian images with a flowering of rhetoric. But life is chaotic. By grounding himself in the real world first, Jackson increased the likelihood of making a change. A good lesson in life for all of us.
Elizabeth Sullivan, Opinion Director:
What I will always remember was the not-yet-in-power Frank Jackson who invited a young Cleveland Police reporter over the night to his Central home, just so I could see life on his street, from close.
Do you have something to say on this subject?
* Send a letter to an editor, which will be considered for a print publication.
* Email general questions about our Editorial board or comments on this editorial board roundtable to Elizabeth Sullivan, Director of Opinion, at [email protected].