Ohio state senator announces bid for Cleveland mayor

CLEVELAND (AP) — An Ohio state senator is hoping to become the first Black woman elected mayor of Cleveland.

Sandra Williams, a Cleveland Democrat, announced her candidacy on Monday. She joins Cleveland City Council President Kevin Kelley, former Councilman Zack Reed and nonprofit executive Justin Bibb as the other prominent candidates vying to succeed Frank Jackson.

Jackson has yet to announce his intentions. But it is widely believed he will not run for an unprecedented fifth, four-year term.

The top two vote-getters from a non-partisan primary in September will face each other in the Nov. 2 general election in this heavily Democratic city.

“I have been tested. I have delivered. And I have a vision for our future,” Williams said in a statement. “I see a city of opportunity where economic, racial, and gender inequality is extinguished, where a good education is within reach of every student; and where fear and crime have plummeted.”

Williams, 52, drew scrutiny last year as the lone Democrat cosponsor of a corruption-tainted nuclear plant bailout bill and for accepting $12,000 in contributions from FirstEnergy Corp., which authorities say secretly funded a $60 million bribery scheme to get the legislation approved.

The nuclear plant subsidies approved in 2019 have since been repealed.

Williams pleaded guilty in 2014 to two misdemeanors for selling Ohio State football tickets to a lobbyist from the payday lending industry that were purchased by her campaign. She received a suspended six-month sentence and was fined $2,225, the same amount the tickets were sold for.

Three other state lawmakers were convicted in cases tied to an investigation of payday lending lobbying activity at the Ohio Statehouse.

Williams was first elected to the Senate in 2014 and was reelected in 2018. She cannot seek reelection because of term limits. She previously served four, two-year terms as a state representative.