CLEVELAND — Kevin Kelley is hoping to become Cleveland’s next mayor.

What You Need To Know

  • Kevin Kelley has been Cleveland City Council president since 2014

  • Kelley has significantly more elected political experience than his opponent, Justin Bibb, who’s seen by many as a political outsider

  • He has an endorsement from current mayor Frank Jackson

Kevin Kelley has represented the Old Brooklyn neighborhood since 2005 and now he’s hoping that experience will help him get elected Cleveland’s next mayor.

“I am a husband. I’m a father of five daughters. I’m a public servant. I’m a community activist, and I am just someone that just really believes in the future of the city of Cleveland,” Kelley said in an interview with Spectrum News 1.  

Kevin Kelley.

For Kelley, running for mayor is a family affair.  

“We all support each other. If one of my other family members was running for something, I’d be the first person at their events as well. I’d be the one volunteering for everything. It’s just how we roll as a family," he said.

Kelley said there will be a change in City Hall the minute he’s in office. 

“Just a full audit of City Hall in terms of are we serving the people of the city of Cleveland the best way we can? There is plenty of talented people in northeast Ohio. We’re going to open City Hall up, we’re going to bring the best and brightest in, we’re going to get the best ideas, the best people. And when I’m mayor, the culture of City Hall is going to be that we wake up every morning to serve the public,” said Kelley. 

His time as council president has gotten him some notable praise from editorial boards for his accomplishments, such as providing lawyers to families facing eviction and helping to establish First Year Cleveland to reduce infant mortality, 

“And we really looked at why are we failing at this issue of infant mortality? And what can we do to get people working together better? How can we scale up these services better?”

But some have questioned if Kelley has done enough in his eight years as council president to address issues like crime and poverty. 

“I say to them, it’s real easy to come up with a concept like poverty and blame people for it. Any elected officeholder candidate who does that, you should just eliminate as being to simple-minded about the issues. It’s a very complicated issue,” Kelley said. “What have we done about poverty? Well, the right to counsel project, for example. We are preventing evictions, evictions are both a symptom and a cause of poverty.” 

Kelley said the three biggest priorities to him are public safety, educating and training citizens and neighborhood and health equity. 

His public safety plan includes a three-pronged approach that addresses recruiting, training and retaining police officers, dealing with the root causes of crime, and true community policing with foot and bike patrols. 

“This is something I believe in. This is something I have done with the men and women of the second district, and you learn a tremendous amount more when you talk to people. When you talk to people,” said Kelley. “We have to get the information to the people that have the resources to solve it.” 

In addition to Jackson’s endorsement, Kelley also has endorsements from multiple unions and city council members.

One council member who’s endorsed him is his former opponent for mayor, Councilman Basheer Jones.