For nearly four years now, John Cranley has held the mayor's office – pursuing his own agenda for the city, shaping the city bureaucracy to his liking, presiding over sometimes raucous council meetings and butting heads frequently with his political foes.
But, back in 2000, he was essentially a brash 26-year-old kid determined to make a career in politics, even though he was, to most voters, a complete unknown.
A graduate of St. Xavier High School, Cranley has an impressive academic record – a magna cum laude graduate of John Carroll University in philosophy and political science, and degrees from both the Harvard Law School and the Harvard Divinity School.
Cranley burst onto the political scene in 2000, fresh out of Harvard taking on Republican Steve Chabot in the First Congressional District, losing with 45 percent of the vote. He took on Chabot in a year when better known Democrats were shying away from a confrontation with Chabot.
Six years later, he tried again, taking on Chabot in another race where he lost with 48 percent of the vote.
His reward for being willing to take on Chabot in 2000 was appointment to the council seat left vacant by Todd Portune's election as county commissioner. He was re-elected with ease in 2001, 2003, 2005 and 2007.
Raised in Price Hill, Cranley left city council in 2009 so he could work as a developer on the Incline District project and avoid a conflict of interest. He also went to work as an attorney at Keating, Muething & Klekamp.
When 2013 rolled around, Cranley was ready to return to politics. He took on fellow Democrat Roxanne Qualls, a former mayor who was serving on council.
Qualls was considered the favorite in the race, but Cranley ran an aggressive campaign and ended up winning with 58 percent of the vote. He won on a promise that he would end the then-still-in-the-works streetcar project – a promise that, ultimately, he was unable to keep.
When you talk to Cranley about his life, he becomes very passionate about his work as the co-founder of the Ohio Innocence Project at the University of Cincinnati College of Law. That project has freed 23 people wrongly-convicted of felony crimes.
Cranley was administrative director of the of the Innocence Project from 2002 to 2006.
Cranley's wife, Dena, is the daughter of immigrants from Jordan, Suhaila and Beshara David, who founded the Gold Star Chili chain. The Cranleys live in Hyde Park and have a son, Joseph.
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