Club members met with former Cleveland Mayor Jane Campbell in the Dirksen Senate Office Building on May 24. Campbell is currently the chief of staff to Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu of Louisiana.
Jane Campbell mainly discussed her tenure as mayor of Cleveland (2002-‘06). As she freely admitted, it was a turbulent and troubled time. The country had a Republican president and Ohio had a Republican governor, neither keen on spending money on cities. Yet she had to wrestle with a budget far out of balance and the economy was shaky. Nevertheless she recalls being mayor as the best job she ever had though also the toughest. She pointed to projects started under her stewardship though coming to public attention only later: The Convention Center and Medical Mart, and infrastructure upgrades to rekindle development in the Flats.
Campbell reflected that she met Mary Landrieu in the 1985 when both were the youngest women legislators in their respective states. They remained friends over the years and she was pleased to accept Sen. Landrieu’s invitation to be her chief of staff after the 2008 election when Barack Obama was elected president.
Asked why she thought women were being elected in fewer numbers to Congress and state legislatures she speculated that politics had become increasingly focused on attacks at candidates’ personal lives or at least aspects outside public affairs (children and spouses, for example) and that women were holding back from entering such a tarnished arena.
She also said that she loves Cleveland and would certainly entertain returning.