Oakar and Kucinich combined to serve Ohio’s 10th Congressional District for more than 30 years.
CLEVELAND — As Cleveland’s upcoming 2021 mayoral election approaches, the endorsements keep pouring in.
On Wednesday, former Cleveland area U.S. Rep. Mary Rose Oakar endorsed Dennis Kucinich in the race, with an official announcement coming at Cleveland’s West Side Market at noon.
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“The city is in great need of somebody with experience,” Oakar told those assembled in Ohio City. “We have great cultural assets, but we are the poorest city in the country. Our people are suffering from violence and crime, and they need jobs, and you [Dennis] really have access to getting us our needs.”
Oakar previously served on Cleveland City Council and in the Ohio House of Representatives and on the State Board of Education before becoming the first Democratic woman from Ohio to be elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1977. She served for eight terms before a 1991 banking scandal led to her pleading guilty to two misdemeanor charges for violating election laws, an ordeal that likely played a role in her loss to Republican Martin Hoke in the following year’s race.
Like Oakar, Kucinich previously served in the U.S. House of Representatives, serving in Oakar’s old seat from 1997-2013. Prior to his time in Congress, he spent time in the Ohio Senate (1995-97) and as Cleveland’s Mayor from 1977-79.
“Mary Rose is a Cleveland institution,” Kucinich said of her endorsement. “People love Mary Rose Oakar. Why? Because you stood for the people in every office you ever held.”
Earlier this year, the 74-year-old Kucinich announced his intentions to once again run for mayor in Cleveland, nearly 42 years after losing his bid for re-election to Republican candidate George Voinovich. When he was elected as Cleveland’s Mayor at the age of 31, he became the youngest person to lead a major American city, earning him the nickname “Boy Mayor.’
In entering this year’s mayoral race, Kucinich joins a crowded field vying to succeed Frank Jackson, who announced earlier this year that he will not be seeking a fifth term. Other candidates to have declared ahead of the Sept. 14 primary include nonprofit executive Justin Bibb, attorney Ross DiBello, Cleveland City Councilman Basheer Jones, Cleveland City Council President Kevin Kelley, former City Councilman Zack Reed and Ohio state senator Sandra Williams.