CLEVELAND — Justin Bibb, a businessman seeking his first elected office, and Cleveland City Council President Kevin Kelley, appear to be the two candidates emerging from Tuesday’s Cleveland mayoral primary. 

What You Need To Know

  • Justin Bibb and Kevin Kelley were ahead in Tuesday’s Cleveland mayoral primary

  • The top two candidates will advance to the General Election in November

  • The primary was crowded with seven candidates, six of whom earning more than 10% of the vote

  • Former mayor, congressman and presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich appears to be headed to a third-place finish

The two candidates were ahead of a field of seven candidates. The crowded field included the city’s former mayor and presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich, Councilman Basheer Jones, state Sen. Sandra Williams, former council member and mayoral candidate Zack Reed and attorney Ross DiBello. All but DiBello received more than 10% of the vote, according to Board of Election figures.

As of late Tuesday, the Board of Elections reported that Bibb led all candidates with 27.1% of the vote, followed by Kelley with 19.4%. Kucinich was in third at 16.5%. Kucinich told supporters on Tuesday "I don't think we're going to make up that ground."

Once certified, Bibb and Kelley face each other in the November General Election. The winner will replace Mayor Frank Jackson who is exiting city hall after four terms in office.

Both Bibb and Kelley earned key endorsements heading into the race. Bibb got the endorsement of former Mayor Michael White, while Kelley received Jackson’s endorsement.

Bibb has been active in the social justice movement and helped launch Cleveland Can’t Wait, a nonprofit organization with the mission to advance economic opportunity and racial justice in underserved neighborhoods. 

According to his campaign bio, Bibb was an intern for former President Barack Obama when he was a U.S. senator. Bibb would go on to serve as a special assistant for Cuyahoga County, head the Global Cities Practice at Gallup and was a vice president for KeyBank. He is currently the chief strategy officer of Urbanova.

Kelley has served Cleveland’s Ward 13 since 2005. Kelley is not running for a fifth term due to his mayoral candidacy.

Before joining City Council, Kelley was a member of the Jesuit Volunteer Corps.

“We are going to create a neighborhood where every neighborhood counts," Kelley told supporters on Tuesday.

The Cuyahoga County Board of Elections has updated results on its website.

Incumbents survive and advance

Eight current members of Cleveland City Council faced primary challenges on Tuesday. Based on the results, all eight will finish in the top two and have a chance to retain their seats in November, according to the Board of Elections

Also Ken Johnson, who was removed from his seat after being charged with theft and tax crimes, failed to finish in the top two in Ward 4 and will not participate in the November General Election. 

Turnout up slightly

Four years after 13% of Cleveland voters showed up to the polls for the 2017 mayoral primary, 15% cast a ballot for Tuesday’s primary, according to the county Board of Elections. 

The strongest turnout within the city was in Ward 17 in the far west side, the Board of Elections said.

East Cleveland mayor likely to retain seat

East Cleveland Mayor Brandon King was the apparent winner of the city’s Democratic primary, according to Board of Elections results. With no Republicans or independents in contention, King runs unopposed in November to retain his seat. 


The Cuyahoga County Board of Elections is set to certify the results from Tuesday's primary in 10 days.