If one could peer into the past at John Cranley’s time at John Carroll University, the newly elected mayor of Cincinnati and member of the JCU class of ’96 would be doing many of the same things that current JCU students love: working in Student Union, performing service and reading The Carroll News. After many years of Jesuit education, Cranley’s longing to devote his life to public service led him to Harvard Divinity and Law School, eventually assuming substantial political success in city hall and beyond. But his story began at JCU.
After attending St. Xavier High School in Cincinnati, Cranley knew he wanted to continue his career in Jesuit education at the collegiate level. After looking at a litany of Jesuit universities, he chose JCU. After his first visit to the University, Cranley said that JCU “just felt right.”
Cranley double-majored in philosophy and political science with the intention of pursuing a life in politics. His positive experiences in the classroom transferred into his extracurricular life. As a freshman, he was elected to the position of chief justice of SU, then SU president both his sophomore and junior years.
Cranley’s experiences in SU provided him with experience for his time in politics, and he attributes much of his current success to his time in student government.
“I have a lot more memories as Student Union president than as an actual John Carroll student,” said Cranley. “It is an incredibly good way to practice for anyone that wants to get into politics. The lessons that I learned can absolutely be transferred to my life in politics now.”
For current JCU students that aspire to obtain a career in politics and public service, Cranley said that the absolute best preparation starts by getting involved.
“The best thing to do is to run for Student Union or to work for The Carroll News,” said Cranley. “The best way to prepare for politics is either to work in it or hold it accountable.”
During his time in Student Union, Cranley was an avid reader of The Carroll News. Cranley’s feelings towards The Carroll News ranged from deep appreciation to varying degrees of resentment, depending on the situation at hand. Regardless of how his feelings changed from week to week, he feels his experience with The Carroll News benefited him greatly.
“My dealings with The Carroll News during my time as Student Union president was great preparation for dealing with the press as I do on a daily basis now,” Cranley said. “I read The Carroll News very, very closely during my time there, going back and forth between happy and sad with their coverage. Grappling with that kind of accountability from the press is a very good exercise.”
His time at JCU culminated in graduating magna cum laude. After JCU, he attended Harvard Law and Divinity schools, never once forgetting his extensive background with the Jesuits.
“By the time I went to Harvard, I knew that I wanted to go into public service, which is something that I really attribute to the Jesuits,” said Cranley. “The Jesuits taught me to pursue excellence, which is what Harvard is all about. It kind of turbocharged my feeling that we should use our God-given talent best, whatever it is we choose to do.”
After attending Harvard, Cranley served on Cincinnati’s city council for eight years, consistently tackling hard-hitting social issues. During his time in the position, he made significant progress in lessening racial animosity in a city where issues of injustice are very much a reality.
Although the work that he did was often difficult and emotional, Cranley always lived up to the title of public servant. Along with working tirelessly on racial issues, Mayor Cranley’s esteemed accomplishments include passing a living minimum wage law for all city workers and passing a law that added LGBTQ individuals to those protected under the city hate crime laws.
In the midst of his highly successful career in city council, Cranley said he couldn’t help but think that his talents could be better utilized in some sort of higher capacity. After eight years on the council, he made the decision to run for mayor.
“I love this city, and thought that we could do bigger and better things,” Cranley said.
When Cranley was elected as the mayor of Cincinnati on Nov. 5, 2013, his emotions were that of excitement and relief. After running two races for congresses without success, his victory as city mayor was gratifying.
“Half of life is getting back on the horse after you’ve fallen,” Cranley said. “Losing makes victory all the sweeter.”
In keeping with Jesuit ideals, Cranley’s main focus is fighting for those that often aren’t fought for. The mayor hopes to increase job growth and expand opportunities with a particular focus on the unemployed. He hopes to provide services that will give individuals the skill sets they need to be successful, putting dignity and pride back into the families of poorer neighborhoods.
Cranley also wants to make the unsafe pockets of his city safer for kids to grow up in by helping to decrease the crime rate in neighborhoods where shootings are all too frequent. Cranley also hopes to create neighborhoods of quality, providing adequate green space for the residents who call it home.
As the mayor searched for advice to tell current students at JCU, he concluded with: “Whether it’s Student Union, doing charity work or writing for The Carroll News, get involved in some way other than just drinking beer.”