Councilman Johnson has represented Ward 8, an area that includes Glenville, St Clair-Superior and University Circle neighborhoods, since 2010. He previously served on Cleveland City Council from 1984-1989. He serves as vice chair of the Health and Human Services committee and as a member of the Aviation and Transportation, Community and Economic Development and the Employment Affirmative Action and Training committees as well as the Sustainability sub-committee.
Councilman Johnson was born and raised in Cleveland and a graduate of Collinwood High School. After graduating he attended John Carroll University before transferring to Kent State University. Following graduation, Councilman Johnson accepted a fellowship to study City Planning and development from Cornell University for a semester before attending law school at Case Western Reserve University. He graduated in 1984 with his law degree and a Master’s degree in Political Science.
Before serving on Cleveland City Council, Councilman Johnson was hired and trained in dispute resolution as a counselor and Mediator in the Cleveland Prosecutor’s office handling neighborhood disputes. He joined the Glenville area Ward 8 Club and began volunteering within the community with former Councilman Michael R. White
In 1984, Councilman Johnson was appointed as Councilman for Ward 8 as White was appointed to the Ohio State Senate. He was then elected as the Ward 8 Councilman 90 days later and re-elected two times in 1985 and 1989. Councilman Johnson served over 5 years in Cleveland City Council, and 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 area received new economic and housing development projects including the Glenville Plaza, Eastside Market and Abyssinia Towers, a senior citizen apartment complex.
In December of 1989, Councilman Johnson was appointed to the Ohio State Senate following Senator White’s election as Mayor of Cleveland. He was elected to the position in the fall of 1990 and re-elected in 1994. During the 9 years he served in the Ohio Senate, Councilman 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).
Councilman Johnson returned to Cleveland City Hall in 2002 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, Councilman 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.
In 2007, Councilman Johnson became the Executive Director of the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus where he was responsible for overseeing the organization’s public policy agenda and its political action committee projects. He also directed the OLBC Foundation, a non-profit group focused on public policy development and community outreach.
Councilman Johnson is the recipient of numerous awards and honors during his over 25 years in public service. The Oho Democratic Party, Ohio Bar Association and the Ohio Trial Lawyers Association all honored him as Ohio Legislator of the Year. The National Black Caucus of State Legislators recognized Councilman 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 Jeff as among Northeast Ohio’s Most Influential, and he received the Foundation’s prestigious W.O. Walker Award for Community Excellence in 2008. Jeff was also inducted into the Collinwood High School Hall of Fame and received the Alumni Community Service Award from Kent State University. He previously was recognized by Ebony magazine as one of the nation’s 30 Leaders of the Future.
Councilman Johnson feels a strong sense of connection to and pride for his community. He hopes to continue to build upon the strong foundation that Ward 8 has established for itself by working to connect businesses with the community. He is pleased and privileged to represent Ward 8 serve to the best of his ability.
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- Health & Human Services - Vice Chair
- Aviation and Transportation
- Community and Economic Development
- Employment, Affirmative Action and Training