The Ross DiBello Profile
Updated: Nov 28, 2020
Ross DiBello has had enough. Enough of Frank Jackson and endless terms in office. Enough of money in politics. Enough of Clevelanders feeling voiceless. That is why the young attorney announced recently he is throwing his hat in the ring to be Cleveland’s next mayor. Although the election is a long way off—the general will be held on November 2, 2021—and will likely draw a crowded field of candidates, DiBello was the first to formally jump in the race when he announced his candidacy on October 28.
Admittedly, DiBello is a “non-traditional” candidate. He has never held elected office. Nor does he have the background of someone that screams mayoral candidate. Sure, he is a lawyer by training (most recently as a staff attorney for common pleas judge Cassandra Collier-Williams), but, like many Clevelanders, he spent the first months of the pandemic on unemployment. He has worked two, full-time, near-minimum wage jobs at the same time. He has even played poker professionally. Running for mayor, however, is undoubtedly his biggest gamble yet.
As he builds his campaign, we reached out to DiBello to get to know him a little better.
Profile: Ross DiBello
-High School: Notre Dame Cathedral Latin (’01).
-Undergraduate: Ohio State ('05).
-Law School: Cleveland-Marshall ('08).
-Cleveland Sports Heroes: LeBron James (Cavs), Bernie Kosar (Browns), Jose Ramirez (Indians), and Troy Smith (Buckeyes).
-Go-to Cleveland restaurant: Astoria and Flight Cleveland in Detroit Shoreway. I proposed to my wife at Luchitas on West 117th.
-Cleveland Coffee Spot: I don't drink coffee but my wife loves Five Points Coffee & Tea in West Park and Phoenix Coffee. Shout out to Corbos and Prestis in Little Italy, equally of course.
-Favorite Cleveland Festival: The Feast in Little Italy. For decades, my family hosted the biggest yearly celebration in my grandma’s backyard. Family, old friends, new friends, and the Little Italy Band are among the hundreds of guests who stop by for a little shade and cool drinks in between cannolis and pasta.
Q&A with Ross DiBello
Why are you running for mayor and why now?
"I'm running now because of the current state of the government in Cleveland and the resulting tragic and systemic humanitarian situations. I'm running because we can do more than vote, donate and volunteer -- we can fight for change. The state of Cleveland has forced me to ask more of myself and consider what actions and reforms are needed to make the quality of life better for all Clevelanders. I believe that term limits, campaign finance, and public engagement including public comment and direct petitions are needed in this city. These changes will finally allow us to negotiate vigorously for Clevelanders and our tax dollars. The past two mayoral and council elections haven’t had enough candidates speaking to progressive issues or systemic reform. I am running to bring these issues to the forefront, and, hopefully, make Cleveland a more vibrant city where leaders listen to the ideas and needs of all people."
Why are you the man for the job?
"I'm the man for the job because I know what I don't know. My campaign focus will amplify and equalize all of our voices and opinions. We need to open up the marketplace of ideas beyond just the Mayor, Council President and their large-dollar donors. When 30,000 Clevelanders sign a petition stating we want to simply vote on an issue, and the powers that be use their power to foreclose the progress we are trying to make, our "representatives" are derelict in their sole duty of enacting the will of the people. But in truth, it doesn't have to be me. If another candidate wins and drives the changes that benefit us all and future generations of Clevelanders, that's the most important thing."
What are your top 2-3 priorities on Day One in City Hall, if elected?
"Day 1 in City Hall I will Increase the average person’s access and influence in government. I will work immediately to allow public comment at weekly council meetings, institute term limits, campaign finance, and increase our investment in education in our schools and city departments."
Too many Millennials and Gen Z'ers leave Cleveland after high school or college for cities like Columbus and Chicago. How would you make Cleveland a more attractive destination for the next generation?
"Prioritize sustainability and our environment. Encourage the growth of new and small businesses; focus investment and economic support on our local businesses. Bring Clevelanders together both in person and digitally. During COVID we are seeing the real consequences of Cleveland as the least digitally connected major American city. Our children are bearing that burden and others from bad business decisions. I will make a relentless effort to empower others of all ages, especially high schoolers."
Anything else you'd like Clevelanders to know about you.
"When I lived downtown one of my roommates appeared on ABC's "The Bachelorette." For fans of those shows, I would genuinely use the phrase "I'm in this race for the right reasons." I'm not upending my life for the sake of vanity or to angle for the next job or political opening. I haven’t lived my life with political ambition in mind, but I look at the city and know that Cleveland deserves better. I’ve decided to run for mayor because Cleveland needs a common sense, progressive platform fought for and implemented in this city. The changes I propose benefit the quality of life for Eastsiders, Downtowners, Westsiders and the whole of a very diverse Cleveland. And I am not afraid to ask for help. We can't just complain, we need to act. My focus is to bring real democracy back to Cleveland, and for that to work I'll need the support of Clevelanders to get creative. If you’re reading this and have ideas of ways to improve the city, our businesses, or your street -- please reach out. My belief in Clevelanders and optimism is what inspired me to run and I hope you’ll join me."
You can follow DiBello on Twitter (@Rossitron5), Instagram (@ross_dibello_cle), or visit his website at www.rossdibello.com.