Local activist and Black Lives Matter organizer Aisia Jones has announced her candidacy for Cleveland City Council in Ward 8. Jones, who says her campaign will be built on transparency and the pursuit of opportunity for all Clevelanders, will challenge longtime incumbent Mike Polensek in an area that includes Collinwood.
"Cleveland needs new, fresh leadership as we continue to face serious issues in our city, our homes, our communities — from education to health and public safety,” Jones said in a statement provided to the media. “Cleveland cannot fully and effectively tackle these issues until we have full transparency of our Cleveland leaders and until Clevelanders are able to openly engage in the process of building a better city, something the current leadership at City Hall does not allow.”
Jones told Scene she has signed on to Ward 12 City Council candidate Rebecca Maurer's "Better Council, Better Cleveland" pledge
, which asks current council members and candidates to support a series of reforms designed to build trust and good governance at City Hall.
For Jones, a 30-year-old mother of two, trust in elected leaders and trust in local law enforcement are both key issues. She grew up in Cleveland and moved to Poughkeepsie, New York, in 2000. When she returned to Cleveland's Ward 8 in 2012, she said things had changed.
"I was really displeased with what I saw in Cleveland when I came back," she said, citing specifically the growing distrust between the community and the police in the aftermath of Tamir Rice's killing. "It needs to be better. We need to get back to community policing."
Jones has pulled petitions at the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections and says she has been walking the streets, listening to concerns of residents. She has heard familiar refrains about the financial stresses of the pandemic, the lack of meaningful job opportunities, the woeful condition of streets and housing on the east side, and the segregation of Ward 8.
This will be Jones' first time running for elected office. She said that while she is not an experienced politician, she considers herself a change agent and a leader. To her, being a leader means listening to and responding to residents; not making decisions without their input.
"Right now, decisions are being made for us at City Hall and we can't even say whether we want them or not," she said. "[City Council has] to work with residents, not just for them."
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