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CLEVELAND (WJW)– Clevelanders will head to the polls on Nov. 2 to decide on the city’s next mayor.

Out of a crowded field, nonprofit leader Justin Bibb and Cleveland City Council President Kevin Kelley emerged from the primary to vie for Cleveland’s top office. One of the men will replace Mayor Frank Jackson, who has held the position since 2006.

Bibb leads Kelley by 9 points in the latest poll conducted by Baldwin Wallace University. The poll, released on Oct. 12, has 40 percent of respondents undecided. Considering just 16 percent of the city’s registered voters turned out for the primary, that small margin could easily shift in either direction on Election Day.

About the candidates

Justin Bibb, 34, might be a political newcomer, but he still has a loaded resume. His mother is a social worker, and his late father was a firefighter and police officer in Cleveland Heights. Bibb received his bachelor’s degree in urban studies from American University. He also has a JD and MBA from Case Western Reserve University.

Bibb founded Hack Cleveland to address systemic issues in the city, was the vice president of corporate strategy at Key Bank and is the chief strategy officer of Urbanova, which focuses on challenges in midsize cities. He’s on the boards for the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority, Teach for America and Land Studio.

His message: Cleveland can’t wait.

Kevin Kelley, 53, has a bachelor’s degree in economics from Marquette university and a master’s degree in social work from Case Western Reserve University. He also graduated magna cum laude from Cleveland Marshall College of Law. He was a social worker before becoming a practicing lawyer and met his wife while working for the Jesuit Volunteer Corps. The couple has five children with the youngest daughter in elementary school.

In 2005, Kelley was elected to Cleveland City Council, serving Ward 13, which includes Old Brooklyn and part of the Stockyard neighborhood. He became president of city council in 2014. He’s the chair of the finance committee and rules committee, and also serves on the operations committee and mayor’s appointments committee.

His goal: a stronger future for every Cleveland neighborhood.

The issues

Justin BibbKevin Kelley
EconomyBibb wants to establish an office of economic recovery, fight for a living wage, ensure good jobs are accessible, put local businesses and workers first, match employers and educations and focus on neighborhoods while supporting minority and women-owned businesses.Kelley aims to collaborate with county government and other programs to address poverty. He also wants to create a workforce position in the mayor’s office, pace the way for more apprenticeships, increase job training and work with nonprofits, labor unions and churches.
EnvironmentHis plan is to end the 50-year contract with Cleveland Public Power, increase public transit routes, provide free or subsidized transit for low-income residents, prioritize parks and greenspaces in every neighborhood and punish polluters.Kelley wants to continue the work he did studying solar energy while on city council. He also wants to reboot the city’s recycling program with focus on education and innovative funding.
HealthBibb plans to increase funding for the city’s health department, speed up the process for lead testing and remediation, address food desserts by leveraging the Opportunity Corridor and coordinate COVID-19 vaccine outreach.He says he will reorganize the city’s health department, invest in mental health services, work with the Cuyahoga County Board of Health and create a Health Disparities Advisory Council. He also prioritizes addressing lead poisoning in children.
HousingBibb wants to re-examine the tax abatement policy, increase access to homeownership, take a stand against predatory property management companies and invest in permanent housing for people at risk to homelessness.Kelley aims to add to housing and tenant services, address issues in the legal system related to evictions and housing equality and advocate for federal funding for low-income housing. He also wants to create the Cleveland Affordable Housing Commission.
SafetyBibb’s plan includes retraining and reassigning officers, adding a mental health option to 911, increasing homicide detectives, targeting violent offenders through the police intelligence unit, fighting for stricter gun laws and funding re-entry programs.Kelley’s plan includes creating neighborhood safety centers, improving call response time, increasing staffing on special police units like homicide and sex crimes, coordinating with social services, addressing poverty and decriminalizing non-violent drug offenses.

The general election is Nov. 2. Polls are open from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Early voting is available at the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections.