Cleveland City Council, Ward 15
Northeast Ohio, Local
Development professional turned councilmember Jenny Spencer has been connected with her community long before becoming its representative. After getting her Master’s degree from Harvard in Public Policy and Urban Planning, Jenny spent two years in the Peace Corps and went on to apply the values she picked up towards community development. She has spent a decade working with Detroit Shoreway Community Development Organization in both project management and director roles. Here she has been committed to initiatives improving the physical and economic conditions of Cleveland’s Detroit Shoreway, Cudell, and Edgewater neighborhoods. Once appointed to serve the Ward 15 vacancy, Jenny sprung into action promoting local businesses, opportunities for her constituents to get involved in local politics, and spotlighting volunteer events to help neighbors connect. Spencer is active in community outreach with resources and opportunities for assistance – that she encourages her constituents to take advantage of. Her lifelong passion for public service has been proven to her community members and can only continue flourishing with an election win.Spencer for Ward 15
Meet the Candidate
Can you tell our members a little bit about your journey to filing as a candidate?
Although I have held several political roles (my first job out of college was working on the campaign of Jane Campbell for Mayor in Cleveland), this is my first time running for office. After serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Paraguay, South America, I returned to Cleveland in 2008 and moved to Ward 15, where I began working for Detroit Shoreway Community Development Organization (DSCDO), the community development corporation for the area. I spent a decade at DSCDO, overseeing a staff that provides community development services in the Cudell, Detroit Shoreway, and Edgewater neighborhoods, which are some of the most racially and socio-economically diverse in the city of Cleveland. During that time, I also worked closely with Matt Zone, the longtime City Council representative for Ward 15. In Fall 2020, Councilman Zone announced that he would transition to take a leadership position with the nonprofit Western Reserve Land Conservancy, creating a vacancy on Council. I was honored to be recommended to fill the vacancy and was appointed to Cleveland City Council in November 2020. I feel deeply accountable to my Ward 15 community and am proud to serve as its advocate, and now, to run for office.
Tip O’Neill famously said that “all politics is local.” What are the top two issues your community faces today and how do you plan to address them?
Two of my priorities for Ward 15 are (1) affordable and mixed-income housing and (2) workforce development.
- As detailed on my website, I will support the continued development of affordable housing in Ward 15. In addition, I will work towards reforming Cleveland’s current tax abatement policy, which must be re-authorized in 2022. I also plan to work with Council colleagues to introduce legislation to ensure Source of Income protections for renters.
- Also detailed on my website, Ward 15 is home to an impressive array of programs and services to support jobseekers and workforce preparedness. I want to ensure that Ward 15 residents have access to these services and the resources they need to thrive.
What stands out in our values as most important to you and your experience (or expected experience) in public office? Our values are:
∙ Economic empowerment
∙ Equity and independence
∙ Dominion over our bodies
∙ Access to education
∙ Safe communities in which to live and raise our families
Although I share all of these values with the Matriots PAC, what stands out to me are economic empowerment and safe communities in which to live and raise our families.
Ward 15 is an extremely diverse community, but our diversity will be at risk if we do not ensure the availability of affordable and mixed-income housing far into the future. Once the CDC Covid-19 eviction moratorium comes to an end, it will be very important to protect low-income renters, many of whom are female-headed households. I will continue to support the Right to Counsel program in Cleveland, which provides legal representation during eviction hearings, as well as continued rental assistance for post-Covid relief.
Similar to all major cities across the country, crime is on the uptick in Cleveland. I recognize, however, that increased policing does not make all residents feel “safer.” While all residents deserve to live in neighborhoods that are free of crime, I will also advocate for police reform and alternatives to policing.
What does a Matriots PAC endorsement mean to you and your campaign?
I am so proud to share values with the Matriots PAC and firmly believe that when women lead, our communities will prosper. Women have a unique ability to collaborate, discern shared values, and come together across differences. The existence of the Matriots will encourage many women to take the leap and run for office. Knowing that I am part of The Hive and a community of women in public service encourages me and strengthens my resolve to run a successful campaign.