Dennis Kucinich lays out vision for fighting crime in Cleveland during mayoral announcement The man who was once known as the .Boy Mayor. is going to take another run at his former job. On Monday, 74-year-old Dennis Kucinich officially announced ...
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Cleveland has been spiraling downward. It's one of the poorest cities in the country, beset by worsening violent crime, poverty and decaying infrastructure. Now, 42 years after the end of his first term as mayor, Dennis Kucinich is ready for his second.
Kucinich won a race for mayor of Cleveland at age 31 and promptly infuriated the power structure, which could not accept his insistence that the city's electric utility should remain under public control. Mayor Kucinich challenged and mocked the greed and anti-democratic zeal of the banks that drove the city into bankruptcy when he refused to accede to the corrupt demands that the Municipal Light Plant be sold off. After defeating a recall campaign in 1978, he lost a bid for re-election the next year -- but left an enduring legacy.
Today, the local Center for Public History describes the events this way: "In a political battle with the City Council, Kucinich agreed to ask the voters to decide: would Cleveland sell the Municipal Light Plant, or nearly triple the income tax rate of residents? The election was an overwhelming landslide in the favor of Kucinich and the Municipal Light Plant. Though this only worsened Cleveland's financial situation and prevented Kucinich's re-election, the decision helped Cleveland maintain its own municipal light system even to this day."
As years went by, it became clear even to many of his foes, including corporate media, that Dennis Kucinich was correct -- that he'd been willing to sacrifice his political fortunes for the good of city residents rather than private profits. The reality sunk in that his principled tenacity saved Clevelanders millions of dollars. In 1996, Kucinich won a congressional seat, and he kept being re-elected until 2012, when power brokers in the Ohio legislature gerrymandered him out of Congress.
Now, while he's well known around the nation, Kucinich is focused laser-like on his city. "My first responsibility is to the people of Cleveland," he told me, hours before filing his official papers with the board of elections on Wednesday afternoon. Talking about a widespread sense of "desperation" among many in the city, he reeled off grim numbers about "an extraordinary rise in crime." Many neighborhoods, he said, "are teetering on the brink of disaster."
To hear Kucinich tell it, crime and poverty are twin evils, and both must be stopped. "There's no question that crime is the number one concern in Cleveland," he said. And, "We can't talk about having a truly peaceful community when so many people are suffering."
Kucinich went on to discuss his plans for a "civic peace department," an echo of his tireless advocacy as a Congress member for a Department of Peace in the federal government. Noting that Cleveland's mayor is in charge of public schools, he spoke of the need for a "peace curriculum."
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