City Councilman Blaine Griffin told a virtual crowd at a New Year's celebration Tuesday evening that he would not be seeking the office of Cleveland mayor in the 2021 election.
If not an outright surprise, the announcement was certainly news. Griffin has long been considered a natural heir to incumbent Frank Jackson and has been on virtually every short list of prospective mayoral candidates published since Jackson won his unprecedented fourth term in 2017.
But Griffin confirmed his decision with Scene later Tuesday night. He said he would instead be running to retain his council seat in Ward 6.
"Unless something dramatically changes, I am running for council," he said. "I am signing up for another four years."
Griffin was recently appointed by Council President Kevin Kelley as the chair of council's Safety Committee, replacing outgoing councilman Matt Zone. And if Kelley runs for Mayor — as his colossal fundraising
would seem to indicate — Griffin is the most likely successor as council president. Griffin is the current majority whip on council and is seen as something of a peacemaker by his colleagues.
Griffin told Scene that he "just want[s] to be a good public servant," and believes that for now, he can best serve his constituents as the representative in Ward 6. That area includes the neighborhoods of University Circle, Little Italy, Fairfax and Larchmere, with portions of Buckeye-Shaker, Slavic Village and Union Miles. With the ongoing expansion of the Cleveland Clinic and residential development in University Circle, Griffin's ward remains one of the hottest in Cleveland. He was appointed to his seat in 2017, completing the brief remainder of former councilwoman Mamie Mitchell's term. A few months later, he won a full four-year term of his own.
Griffin did not say his current decision was influenced by other candidates in the 2021 mayoral race, but he has no doubt cast his gaze upon the horizon and frowned:
The millennial nonprofit executive and hashtag hot shot Justin Bibb formally launched
his campaign earlier Tuesday. Mayor Frank "There is No Infrastructure
" Jackson has given no public indication about his future, but may say to Hell with it, Feinstein-wise, and seek a fifth term to continue insulating his extended family from criminal prosecution. The unapologetic HB 6 co-sponsor Sandra Williams and the Egyptian sojourner
Basheer Jones have both indicated their interest, and young outsiders with stylized names and flamboyantly irrelevant credentials seem only too eager to stir the pot, destined for votes in the 200-500 range on primary day. Zack Reed and a walk-in closet of very clean suits lurk in the wings. Kevin Kelley has a fortune at his disposal, but will need something like two billion dollars — ~$10,000 for every impoverished person in Cleveland, disbursed in cash — to rehab his villainous image. The aging thespian Dennis Kucinich has more clout and electoral panache than the rest of the field combined, save Jackson. And it's only a matter of time before the former mayor, Congressman and presidential candidate enters the fray with tornadic force.
Griffin might've eyed that approaching storm and battened down his hatches. He knows he can ascend the council ladder via a much smoother electoral path. In any case, he told Scene he wanted to continue to "lace them up and give it all I've got" as a councilman.
He affirmed that in whatever elected position he holds, he will continue to love Cleveland and work hard.
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