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Meet Jeff Johnson

Educated Leader

Jeff Johnson is currently a City Councilman for Ward 10 in Cleveland, Ohio. Jeff, in his eighth year as Councilman, is a Democrat, and Cleveland native. He grew up in the Collinwood and Glenville neighborhoods, attended CMSD schools, and graduated from Collinwood High School in 1976. Jeff went on to receive his B.A. in Telecommunications from Kent State University, a M.A. in Political Science and a Juris Doctorate from Case Western Reserve University. He also studied briefly at Cornell University in the City Planning and Development school.  Throughout his career, Jeff, an Attorney, has been a champion fighting for the important social issues. Job opportunities and training, better educational system, alleviating food deserts, safer communities and stronger financial investments in Cleveland neighborhoods are some of the issues Jeff has advocated for over the last 33 years.

On January 17th, Jeff announced his candidacy for Mayor of Cleveland. The 2017 Primary election will be on September 12, and General election on November 7.

Extensive Career

In 1984, Jeff was appointed as Councilman for Ward 8 as then-councilman Michael White was appointed to the Ohio State Senate. Jeff was then elected as the Ward 8 Councilman 90 days later and re-elected in 1985 and 1989. Jeff was co-sponsor of the city’s first Fair Housing law and led the successful effort to establish Cleveland’s Sex Crime and Child Abuse Investigative Unit in the Cleveland Police Department.  During his tenure, the Ward 8 Glenville neighborhood received new economic and housing development projects including the Glenville Plaza, Eastside Market, and Abyssinia Towers, a senior citizen apartment complex. He was recognized and honored for his public service by local community groups.

Jeff became an Ohio State Senator In January of 1990 when he was appointed to the Senate following Senator White’s election win for Mayor of Cleveland. During his 9 years as Senator, Jeff sponsored a law creating the Ohio Infant Health Commission, and co-sponsored diverse legislation covering major issues including workplace discrimination, education reform, economic development, criminal justice reform and more. He led the successful fight to keep Central State University open in 1997 while serving as President of the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus (OLBC).

In 1998, Jeff was convicted of campaign fundraising related violations and sentenced to 15 months in prison. After serving 9 months, he completed a 4 month halfway house program in  2001. in 2002, Jeff was hired as an assistant to then Mayor Jane Campbell. He was promoted to the Mayor’s Cabinet a year later as Director of the Department of Community Relations. During his years as Director, Jeff was responsible for overseeing the city’s police and community outreach initiative, mediation of neighborhood disputes, and implementation of the city’s Fair Housing program.  He was recognized by community groups for his outstanding leadership. After Mayor Campbell’s election loss in 2005, Jeff started his company, Prime Strategy Group, a political consultant firm. In 2008, after citing his successful post-conviction career, he received from the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas an expungement that sealed his record. In 2008, the Ohio Supreme Court unanimously reinstated his law license.

Jeff became a candidate for the Cleveland Ward 8 City Council position in 2009, and was elected in November of that year. In 2013 he won again after being forced to seek reelection in a new redistricted Ward 10 after his previous ward was removed.

Community Advocate

Jeff, as Councilman, has fought for economic development, the rehabilitation of housing, crime prevention, improved health, and better city services. In 2013, Jeff began an effort to bring a grocery store to the Glenville neighborhood to meet the needs of the residents. After four years of working the project over many hurdles at City Hall the project is in development and scheduled to open in Fall of 2017. Jeff has also been a strong advocate for historic preservation, and is known as a leader in the effort to save historically significant structures and areas in Cleveland. He has successfully protected over 30 structures and two districts with city landmark designations. In response to increasing gun violence in Cleveland, Jeff remains a leader in the fight to reduce violent crime, and continues to call for a public/private partnership to respond to this city crisis. In 2016, Jeff supported raising the minimum wage in Cleveland to $15 per hour, believing that income inequality continues to be a major problem in Cleveland.

As he has done in past elections, Jeff is an active supporter of national, state and local Democratic candidates for elected office. In 2016, he was the Ohio African American Vote coordinator for the Presidential campaign of former Secretary of State, Hillary R. Clinton.

Awards & Honors

Family Life

Johnson, 58, married Felicia Williams on December 19, 2015, and has 2 “bonus” teenage daughters, Lauren and Victoria Helmick.