Politicians have gone to prison, but how about an ex-con running for the City Council? That’s the issue tomorrow in Cleveland’s Ward 6, which encompasses the Cleveland Clinic and cultural institutions as well as some of the city’s poorest areas with boarded up homes and businesses amid storefront churches and convenience stores. The Christian Science Monitor says that many Ward 6 residents have been touched by the prison system – including John Boyd, who has spent half of his adult life incarcerated for murder, forgery, theft, and drug trafficking.
“It’s never too late to be what you might’ve been,” says the tall, calm, social worker. He’s so convinced of his ability to change people’s perceptions that he’s hoping to be elected the ward’s city councilman in a special election. Talk shows and bloggers are critical, saying it’s a big stretch for a convicted murderer to win a council seat that pays $70,000 per year. Others say that if residents vote for him, they deserve what they get. Ohio’s attorney general has indicated that the law is vague in addressing a convicted felon holding office. Boyd is running against Mamie Mitchell, a former Cuyahoga County assistant prosecutor. Despite the long odds, Boyd supporters are optimistic. “A lot of people support him because he can relate to people. If people listen to him, he’s got ’em,” says Frances Caldwell, his campaign treasurer.