Cleveland Mayor Jackson delivers last State of the City address

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CLEVELAND (WJW) – Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson delivered his final “State of the City” address Thursday night.

He touted his accomplishments over the past year and the 16 years he has been in office, making him the city’s longest serving mayor.

“Now, I have run my leg of this relay. I’ve run my leg and much has been done, but there is so much more to be done,” said Jackson.

He says his goal was always to leave the city better off than he found it. He told the crowd he believes he did just that.

“There’s been significant improvement in our school district,” Jackson said.

Mayor Jackson addressed several topics, including Cleveland schools which have moved from a state grade of F to D. He admitted there’s still much room for improvement.

“It also ranked in the top 4% for improvement in the state reading and math exams… since 2012, the Cleveland plan for reform has helped the school district graduation rate go from around 52% to 80%,” said Jackson

The mayor talked about improvements he’s tried to make to neighborhoods while also enhancing downtown. He also talked about violent crime in the city, which he admits is a major problem, but says the city has seized 2,300 guns this year.

“And seized over $2.3 million of drug money, tens of thousands of grams of illegal drugs, conducted 40 homicide-related search warrants, making seven homicide arrests and cleared around 60% of the homicide cases,” Jackson

Mayor Jackson says the pandemic crippled Cleveland Hopkins and Burke Lakefront airports, but says more passengers are flying out of them and he’s trying to make them more competitive.

“I can’t leave without saying ‘it is what it is’… When I say ‘it is what it is,’ what I means is I have to accept reality no matter how painful it is,” Jackson said.

In his final State of the City address, Mayor Jackson took time to recognize his cabinet, city workers and the residents of the city.

“Thank you for allowing me to be your mayor,” Jackson said.

Mayor Jackson did not take questions after his speech, but did promise to address the media Friday morning.

Before serving as mayor, he was the president of Cleveland City Council for five years. Jackson was elected to council in 1989 and represented the central neighborhood where he grew up.

Cleveland City Council President Kevin Kelley and nonprofit leader Justin Bibb are vying to replace Jackson in the November election.

Bibb and Kelley led the crowded field of seven candidates during the primary election. Bibb finished with 27% of the vote, while Kelley had 19.4%.

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