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‘Change moves at the speed of trust’: Mayoral candidate Justin Bibb says Cleveland needs a fighter

The Primary Election is Sept. 14. The top two candidates will appear on the General Election ballot Nov. 2.
Published: Sep. 6, 2021 at 12:47 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 6, 2021 at 8:40 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - If elected mayor of Cleveland, Justin Bibb would be one of the youngest to hold the position.

Bibb said that’s a strength and not a liability.

“One of the biggest lessons I learned early in my career was that change moves at the speed of trust,” Bibb said. “And good leadership is all about good relationship building.”

Justin Bibb is 34. He grew up in Cleveland’s Mt. Pleasant neighborhood.

In a campaign ad, Bibb talks about his dad being a firefighter and cop and his mother working as a social worker.

Bibb is currently the chief strategy officer of Urbanova. The nonprofit’s webpage states the organization, “is leading an effort to use that technology to build a smarter, more livable, more equitable city; to synthesize data in such a way that it actually improves the socioeconomic conditions of those who live and work in communities around the world.”

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Bibb has held a number of positions in the private and public sector, including vice president for corporate strategy at KeyBank.

Bibb said he likes data and it can be a great tool in accomplishing dynamic change.

“I realized that for us to truly go to the next level as a city, and come out of this pandemic and an equable prosperity this way, we need it bold, new dynamic leadership,” Bibb said, “But also a sense of urgency. And I think this lack of urgency has been a major problem in Cleveland for too long.”

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Combating violent crimes which is up double digits this year, and policing is a giant hurdle for the next mayor.

“We need to be thoughtful, and more data driven in terms of how we think about how to lower crime in every neighborhood, but also do the heart and real work to get real police accountability to rebuild that trust between police and residents,” Bibb said. “Because right now, it’s broken and morale has not been this low in a long time inside our department and I’ve lived it. I’m a son of a cop, and a firefighter. And, I’ve also had to bury too many family friends due to violent crime all across our city.”

Bibb said he wants more of the existing police force to be “walking the beat” and he supports social workers and health professionals being a part of certain non-violent 911 calls.

He said officers need to be paid more and believes department reforms are necessary. Bibb supports what’s known as the Citizens For a Safer Cleveland ballot initiative. It essentially creates a civilian police review board.

“If we can share power with residents that could go a long way to rebuild that trust and change that culture long term,” Bibb said.

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A mayor has a lot of power, but so does council.

“Many of them (council members) have been in power for many, many years. How do you, as mayor, bring about real change with getting council to act?,” asked 19 News morning anchor Damon Maloney.

“They should be a key extension and a key part of what we do in terms of good policy-making for the city of Cleveland,” Bibb said. “I think it’s that relationship building that we need to get back to, to get more buy in to move our community forward.”

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