Jeff Johnson, an Attorney for 28 years, and presently a Magistrate for the Cleveland Housing Court, is an experienced professional with over 35 years of public service work, with 23 of the years in elected office. He has worked in two levels of government, including all three branches of local government, and the Ohio State Legislature. He served 9 years as an Ohio State Senator, and 14 years as a Cleveland City Councilman. Additionally, Jeff is the former Court Administrator for the Cleveland Housing Court and past Director of the Department of Community Relations with Cleveland Mayor Jane Campbell’s Cabinet.
Jeff is a member of the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association and the Norman S. Minor Bar Association. He has been involved in many campaigns for national, state, and local candidates, and for ballot issues, including working as the Ohio Director of the African American vote for the 2016 Presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton, Ohio Field Director for the Barbara Sykes for State Auditor campaign and Ohio Minority Vote Director and Deputy Director for both Presidential campaigns of Bill Clinton. He is also a community organizer for political and community-based initiatives and events. Jeff is a past member of the Democratic National Committee, the Ohio Democratic Party State Central Committee, and the Cuyahoga County Democratic Party Executive Committee.
As an Ohio State Senator, Jeff sponsored and co-sponsored diverse legislation covering major issues including a law creating the Ohio Infant Health Commission, legislation on 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).
Jeff was recognized for his work on state public policy issues including Health Care, Labor Relations, Affirmative Action, Business and Workforce Development, Economic Development, Criminal Justice, and Civil Rights. Jeff co-sponsored the first Fair Housing law in the City of Cleveland and led the successful effort to establish Cleveland’s Sex Crime and Child Abuse Investigative Unit in the Cleveland Police Department. He has been recognized for his advocacy for minority and small businesses. He is responsible for transformational economic development projects in the northeast neighborhoods of Cleveland. In 2016, Jeff was one of the leaders involved with the unsuccessful citywide effort to raise the minimum wage in Cleveland to $15 per hour via a local ballot initiative, believing that income inequality continues to be a major problem in Cleveland. He also sponsored legislation in 2017 to remove dangerous poison lead from Cleveland rental properties to protect children and was a key leader for a local ballot initiative for the lead removal from rental properties that was later passed as law by Cleveland City Council.
Jeff, born in Cleveland, attended local public schools, graduating from Collinwood High School. He earned his Bachelor of Arts in Telecommunications from Kent State University, a Master of Arts in Political Science and Juris Doctorate from Case Western Reserve University. He also studied briefly at Cornell University in the School of City Planning and Development.
Jeff has substantial experience in law and public policy development and analysis. He has worked successfully in both the public and private sectors as a strategic advisor in governmental and political organizations. He has participated in a wide variety of community-based initiatives and policies focused on economic development, housing, health care, education, reentry, voting rights and more. Jeff has been a champion fighting for important social issues including reducing unemployment, preventing gun violence, alleviating food deserts, reforming public safety and increasing neighborhood investment. He has been recognized for his work in the Ohio Legislature, including as Ohio Legislator of the Year, and for his many achievements in local government. Jeff is a member of the NAACP, and the Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity.