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CLEVELAND (WJW)– First-time Cleveland City Councilmember Basheer Jones has his sights on a bigger prize: the mayor’s office.

“It was a big decision (to run) because I love Ward 7 so much. This is the community that raised me. I grew up here on Hough,” Jones told FOX 8’s Wayne Dawson.

He was elected to city council 2017, becoming Cleveland’s first Muslim councilmember. If elected, he would be the city’s first Muslim mayor. Jones sees his faith as a unifying factor.

“Our joy must be everyone’s joy. Our pain must be everyone’s pain. When a young baby is shot and killed, we all should feel it and whenever one of our young people becomes successful, we should all feel excitement about it. I think that is the key to unifying our city,” the 37-year-old said.

But with faith comes hope. That’s something he said is lacking in Cleveland.

“The hopelessness, hopelessness. I feel people just don’t believe that tomorrow’s going to be better than today and as a result of that you have to have a leader that not only has the courage to speak up and speak out when it comes to things such a structural racism, or police reform.”

Crime is set to be a central topic in this mayoral race as the city continues to see an increase in violence.

“You know, fighting crime is not just about being reactive. Fighting crime is not just about adding more police officers, right. We have to be proactive crime is usually a symptom of a bigger problem. The big crime is food deserts. The big crime is the fact we don’t have as many jobs available for those who have left the system. The big crime is we have so many people right now who need their records expunged because they got felonies that keep them from achieving the American dream,” Jones said.

From growing up with a single mother in homeless shelters to reaching for the highest level of city government, Jones has a request for Cleveland voters.

“All I ask it give me the opportunity see the work that I’ve done in Ward 7 and see what we can do for the entire city.”

FOX 8 News is introducing you to the seven candidates for Cleveland mayor. Each Wednesday, we’ll air a story on a different candidate.