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Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson announces he won't seek 5th term during 'Tele-Town Hall'

'It's time to pass the baton.'

CLEVELAND — Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson announced that he will not seek an unprecedented fifth term in office during his Tele-Town Hall on Thursday night. 

"I'm honored to hold the office of mayor," Jackson said. "I want to share with you that I've decided not to seek reelection for a fifth term. I've led the city of Cleveland as your mayor for almost 16 years. For 16 years, I've worked to stabilize this city, position this city, and to ensure that all can participate in the prosperity and quality of life that we've created."

The 74-year-old Jackson departs as 13 other candidates are gearing up for a run at his job. That list now includes Cleveland City Councilman Basheer Jones, who officially filed his petition to run on Thursday. Other candidates include Cleveland City Council President Kevin Kelley, State Sen. Sandra Williams, and former Cleveland councilman Zack Reed, who lost to Jackson in the 2017 mayoral election. 

"It's time to pass the baton," Jackson said when asked why he was not seeking reelection once again. "I've been considering it for some time now and I just made the decision that this is my time."

Shortly after Jackson's announcement, Kelley put out the following statement:

"For more than 30 years, Mayor Jackson has demonstrated that public service is truly a calling, first as an Assistant City Prosecutor, then a Council Member, Council President and finally, Mayor. I want to thank him for his unwavering commitment to the City and its people.

"But today is a new day. It’s time to focus on the future of Cleveland, where for the first time since 2006, we know we will have a new mayor, new leadership, and a new vision for our city. I offer a vision that will help us emerge stronger from the pandemic, work to rebuild our economy, fight back against violent crime and make sure every neighborhood counts. I look forward to working with Clevelanders across the city to forge this new path as the next mayor of Cleveland."

Cleveland's non-partisan mayoral primary will take place on September 14, with the top two candidates advancing to the general election on Nov. 2. 

During his remarks on Thursday, Jackson said he was not endorsing any candidates at this point. 

Prior to Thursday, Jackson had not given any indication of what his intentions would be. In late March, Norm Edwards, head of the Black Contractors Group, endorsed Jackson for a fifth term in an email sent to reporters and elected officials. He said he planned to start raising money for him soon. 

RELATED: Is Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson considering a bid for a fifth term?

Edwards told 3News' Mark Naymik that Jackson had informed him during an hour-long conversation that he would be running. According to Edwards, the mayor said he wants to see more housing developed on the city’s East Side and finish other initiatives stalled by the pandemic.

Jackson has also had to deal with legal issues involving members of his family. Last month, one of his great-grandsons was charged for his role in the attempted break-in at a Valley View gun store last year. Another of Mayor Jackson's great-grandsons was arrested and charged with several crimes involving gang activity in 2019. In February, Frank Q. Jackson, grandson of the mayor, was indicted in connection with a high-speed chase involving Parma police. He was charged with felonious assault and failure to comply, both felonies. Jackson also had a warrant out for his arrest in Cleveland that alleged he hit the mother of his child multiple times in the head last December. Mayor Jackson has come under scrutiny for his grandson's many misdeeds, but has consistently denied interfering in any of the criminal investigations.

You can catch full coverage of Mayor Jackson's Tele-town hall in the player below:

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