Jeff Johnson (Ohio politician)
Cleveland City Council
from Ward 10
January 1, 2014
|Preceded by||Eugene Miller|
Cleveland City Council
from Ward 8
January 1, 2010-December 31, 2013
|Preceded by||Shari Cloud|
|Succeeded by||Michael Polensek|
August 1984-December 31, 1989
|Preceded by||Michael R. White|
|Succeeded by||Bill Patmon|
|Member of the
from the 21st district
January 3, 1990-December 31, 1998
|Preceded by||Michael R. White|
|Succeeded by||C. J. Prentiss|
April 10, 1958 |
Jeffrey D. Johnson (born April 10, 1958) is an American politician of the Democratic Party from Cleveland, Ohio. He is a member of Cleveland City Council representing Ward 10, and previously served as councilman for Ward 8 from 1984 to 1990 and later as a member of the Ohio Senate, from 1990 to 1998. Johnson was raised in the Collinwood neighborhood and graduated from Collinwood High School. He holds a bachelor's degree in communications from Kent State University and a law degree and a master's degree in political science from Case Western Reserve University. He also attended John Carroll University and Cornell University.
Johnson was seen as a rising star in the Democratic Party in the 1990s, and announced his candidacy in 1998 to replace retiring Representative Louis Stokes in the U.S. House of Representatives. A few weeks after his announcement, however, he was indicted on federal charges of extortion. FBI agents said between 1994 and 1996 Johnson accepted $17,000 in campaign contributions and personal loans in exchange for using his influence to land state licenses for grocers. He was convicted in November 1998 and began his sentence in 2000 after losing an appeal, serving 15 months in prison and a halfway house.
In 1984, Johnson was appointed as Councilman for Ward 8 as then-councilman Michael White was appointed to the Ohio State Senate. Johnson was then elected as the Ward 8 Councilman 90 days later and re-elected in 1985 and 1989. Johnson was co-sponsor of the city’s first Fair Housing Law and led the successful effort to establish Cleveland’s Sex Crime and Child Abuse Investigative Unit in the Cleveland Police Department. During his tenure, the Ward 8 Glenville neighborhood received new economic and housing development projects including the Glenville Plaza, Eastside Market, and Abyssinia Towers, a senior citizen apartment complex. Johnson was recognized and honored for his public service by local community groups.
Johnson became an Ohio State Senator In January 1990 when he was appointed to the Senate following Senator White’s election win for Mayor of Cleveland. During his 9 years as Senator, Johnson sponsored a law creating the Ohio Infant Health Commission, and co-sponsored diverse legislation covering major issues including workplace discrimination, education reform, economic development, criminal justice reform and more. He led the successful fight to keep Central State University open in 1997 while serving as President of the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus (OLBC).
In 1998, Johnson was convicted of campaign fundraising related violations and sentenced to 15 months in prison. After serving 9 months, he completed a 4-month halfway house program in 2001. in 2002, Johnson was hired as an assistant to then Mayor Jane Campbell. He was promoted to the Mayor’s Cabinet a year later as Director of the Department of Community Relations. During his years as director, Johnson was responsible for overseeing the city’s police and community outreach initiative, mediation of neighborhood disputes, and implementation of the city’s Fair Housing program. He was recognized by community groups for his outstanding leadership. After Mayor Campbell’s election loss in 2005, Johnson started his company, Prime Strategy Group, a political consultant firm. In 2008, after citing his successful post-conviction career, he received from the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas an expungement that sealed his record. In 2008, the Ohio Supreme Court unanimously reinstated his law license.
Johnson became a candidate for the Cleveland Ward 8 City Council position in 2009, and was elected in November of that year. In 2013 he won again after being forced to seek reelection in a new redistricted Ward 10 after his previous ward was removed.
Johnson has fought for economic development, the rehabilitation of housing, crime prevention, improved health, and better city services. In 2013, Johnson began an effort to bring a grocery store to the Glenville neighborhood to meet the needs of the residents. After four years of working the project over many hurdles at City Hall the project is in development and scheduled to open in Fall of 2017. Johnson has also been a strong advocate for historic preservation, and is known as a leader in the effort to save historically significant structures and areas in Cleveland. He has successfully protected over 30 structures and two districts with city landmark designations. In response to increasing gun violence in Cleveland, Johnson remains a leader in the fight to reduce violent crime, and continues to call for a public/private partnership to respond to this city crisis. In 2016, Johnson supported raising the minimum wage in Cleveland to $15 per hour, believing that income inequality continues to be a major problem in Cleveland.
As he has done in past elections, Johnson is an active supporter of national, state and local Democratic candidates for elected office. In 2016, he was the Ohio African American Vote Coordinator for the Presidential campaign of former Secretary of State, Hillary R. Clinton.
Awards and honors
- The Ohio Democratic Party, Ohio Bar Association and the Ohio Trial Lawyers Association all honored then Senator Johnson as Ohio Legislator of the Year.
- The National Black Caucus of State Legislators recognized Senator Johnson with the Eagle Award for Outstanding Legislator.
- He received Outstanding Service awards for his leadership as President of the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus, and as Director of the Cleveland Department of Community Relations.
- The Call and Post Newspaper Foundation also recognized Johnson as among Northeast Ohio’s Most Influential, and he received the Foundation’s prestigious W.O. Walker Award for Community Excellence in 2008.
- Received the Alumni Community Service Award from Kent State University.
- Recognized by Ebony magazine as one of the nation’s 30 Leaders of the Future under 30.
Johnson, 58, married Felicia Williams on December 19, 2015, and has 2 "bonus" teenage daughters, Lauren and Victoria Helmick.
2017 Cleveland mayoral campaign
- Gomez, Henry J. (April 24, 2009). "Ohio Supreme Court reinstates law license of Jeffrey Johnson". The Plain Dealer. Retrieved January 17, 2017.
- Atassi, Leila (January 16, 2017). "Cleveland City Councilman Jeffrey Johnson will run for mayor". The Plain Dealer. Retrieved January 17, 2017.
- "Councilman Jeff Johnson to run for Cleveland mayor". WKYC.com. January 16, 2017. Retrieved January 17, 2017.