Justin Bibb elected mayor of Cleveland in resounding victory over Kevin Kelley


Justin Bibb waves to his supporters gathered for an election results watch party at the Olivet Institutional Baptist Church. Photo by Michael Indriolo


Cleveland voters enthusiastically chose change on Tuesday, Nov. 2 as 34-year-old Justin Bibb was elected the city’s next mayor by a 62-38 margin. New city council leaders were also elected in wards across the city, and police accountability measure Issue 24 was approved by a wide margin.

“Throughout this campaign, I’ve said now is the time for bold, dynamic, visionary new leadership,” Bibb told the crowd of enthusiastic supporters gathered at Olivet Institutional Baptist Church on the city’s east side. “And the voters of Cleveland have said, we’ve got the mandate for change across our city.”

The mayor-elect praised his mother (“Momma Bibb,” the “definition of resilience,” he said), his grandmother (“Grandma Sarah,” who he voted early with), his campaign staff, and more than 100 students who volunteered with his campaign. 

“Never tell me that young people can’t make a difference in politics,” he said. “I think we did something special this election: we made our democracy better.” 

Attendees at Justin Bibb’s election results watch party turn their phone cameras to the stage as Bibb walks on to claim victory. Photo by Michael Indriolo

Abdul-Malik Ali sports a liberty coin from his father alongside a Bibb button. Photo by Michael Indriolo

Kevin Kelley hugs his mother, Margo Kelley, during his watch party at The Harp.

Speaking at The Harp on the city’s west side, city council president Kevin Kelley conceded the race by saying, “Whatever happened or didn’t happen during this campaign, I will put behind me, we will put behind us. We were in this because we believe in a better Cleveland. We are going to be part of the mindset that we are all part of the future of this city.” 

Bibb asked his supporters and those watching to “roll up their sleeves” after the election and “do the hard work of moving our city forward in a better direction.” 

He added, “We all know the issues we have ahead of us — poorest big city in America, worst city in America for black women, one of two of our children living in poverty. But not one mayor can solve these problems in isolation. It’s going to take a people-powered movement to change our city.”

Bibb speaks to his supporters following his victory. Photo by Michael Indriolo

In other races across the city, city council candidate Rebecca Maurer unseated longtime Ward 12 council member Anthony Brancatelli; Richard Starr beat appointed council member Delores Gray in Ward 5; Kris Harsh claimed the open Ward 13 council seat versus Kate Warren; Stephanie Howse beat TJ Dow in the battle for Ward 7’s council spot; and Ward 4’s new council rep will be Deborah Grey. 

Police accountability measure Issue 24 was also approved by voters. It will make broad changes to oversight of the police department, giving citizens the final say in disciplinary action.

Lee Chilcote is editor of The Land.

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