Frank Jackson, Cleveland's longest-serving mayor announced last evening he will not seek a fifth term in office. Jackson's political future remained a question as candidates have emerged to run for the city's top job.
Jackson said in a town hall last night that there is still work to do in Cleveland and that challenges remain. He characterized the role of mayor as a relay race, as he will hand over the leadership to a new mayor. Jackson departs, he said, haunted by the problems he could not solve--deep-rooted inequalities and racism among them.
Earlier in the afternoon, Councilman Basheer Jones announced his intent to run for mayor. While earlier in the week, State Senator Sandra Williams also announced her candidacy. Her decision was another signal that Jackson was likely not to seek a fifth term. They join already-announced candidates Justin Bibb, Kevin Kelley, and Zack Reed. But there a number of others also running.
Vaccine hesitancy has long been identified as a hurdle in the effort to reach the end of the pandemic. While Ohio's rollout and distribution of the vaccine began strong in the winter, it has leveled off over the last few weeks. Variants of the coronavirus continue to spread in Ohio. But, with fewer people taking the vaccine, the threshold of "herd immunity" appears to be growing out of reach.
Ohio has become the latest state to propose a rewrite of election laws in the aftermath of the 2020 election and unsubstantiated claims of fraud.
A bill introduced in the Ohio House contains a number of changes. Its author and sponsor, Republican State Representative Bill Seitz of Cincinnati, says the measure is an effort to incorporate voting provisions sought by both parties and not an effort to disenfranchise or suppress voters.
A proposed Constitutional amendment to extend the deadline to draw new state legislative districts has been scrapped. The plan called for putting the measure before Ohio voters in August to push back the deadlines to accommodate the data delay from the United States Census Bureau.
As expected, Ohio lawmakers have introduced a stand-alone distracted driving bill. Governor DeWine originally put elements to toughen distracted driving in his budget proposal, but lawmakers removed it. This new bill would essentially make Ohio a "hands free" state by making it illegal for a driver hold their phone while driving. The Ohio Highway Patrol says the state has seen a rise in distracted driving crashes and deaths over the last decade.
Nick Castele, reporter, Ideastream
Anna Huntsman, health reporter, Ideastream
Karen Kasler, Statehouse News Bureau chief, Ohio Public Radio/TV