CLEVELAND — Former Cleveland Mayor Michael R. White has endorsed Justin Bibb for the position White held for 12 years, from 1990–2002.
White made the announcement backing Bibb Wednesday morning, at the house of Bibb's grandmother in the Mount Pleasant neighborhood, where the now-33-year-old Bibb grew up. According to White, it was his first campaign speech since his final mayoral run in 1997.
"I know you, I know this city, I know the people who live here, and I know what they need most," White told the crowd assembled in the front yard. "I know in my heart that the people who are in most need of Justin's leadership and vision are the young ones of this city who only want a chance to be the best they can."
White further called Bibb "worthy and ready" to be elected to City Hall, saying he would be a change from the "politics as usual" that have led to some of Cleveland's problems. He also clapped back at concerns regarding Bibb's relatively young age, noting he was only 38 himself when he first became mayor.
"I say to those who say that 'Justin isn't this' or 'Justin isn't that,' take a second look," White said. "Take a second look, and I'll tell you what you're going to see: A smart, hard-working, committed individual who did what we asked him to do."
Bibb says he’s running because of a lack of energy and big ideas among city leaders. He earned a law degree and MBA and works for the Spokane, Washington, based nonprofit Urbanova, which helps cities and others employ smart technology to be more efficient. He sits on local boards, including the Regional Transit Authority’s.
"Residents want a mayor that is going to solve violent crime, residents want a mayor that is going to work hard to have a modern response to City Hall, residents want a mayor that is going to do the hard work to improve public education," Bibb said Wednesday, adding he was "honored" to have White in his corner. "But the one thing they want more than anything is a mayor that's going to fight, day in and day out, and hear their concerns.
Bibb has also received the endorsement of The Plain Dealer/cleveland.com's editorial board. He is one of seven candidates seeking to replace outgoing Mayor Frank G. Jackson, with the others being:
Cuyahoga County's primary election will be held on Tuesday, Sept. 14. That will be the day when Clevelanders will head to the polls and help decide who will be their next mayor to replace the retiring Jackson. The primary is considered non-partisan, with the top two finishers moving on to face each other in the General Election on Nov. 2.
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Editor's note: The video in the player above is from a 'Voters First' debate held on August 17, 2021.