John Cranley ’96, the newly elected mayor of Cincinnati, exemplifies the ideal John Carroll graduate. When one peers into Cranley’s time at JCU, he was doing many of the same things many current Carroll students love: working in the Student Union, performing service, and reading The Carroll News. After years of Jesuit education, Cranley’s longing to devote his life to public service led him to Harvard Divinity and Law Schools, eventually achieving political success beyond city hall.
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 Carroll. Like many students can attest after their first visit, Carroll just felt right to Cranley.
Cranley double majored in philosophy and political science with the intention to pursue a life in politics. His positive experiences in the classroom transferred into his extracurricular life, where he was unquestionably a leader. He was elected to chief justice of Student Union as a freshman, then Student Union president his sophomore and junior years – all of which was valuable experience for his time in politics. He attributes much of his success to his work in student government.
“I have more memories as Student Union president than as an actual John Carroll student,” he says. “It’s incredibly good practice for anyone who wants to enter politics. The lessons I learned can be transferred to my life in politics now.”
For Carroll students who aspire to a career in politics and public service, the best preparation is involvement.
“The best thing to do is to run for Student Union or to work for The Carroll News,” Cranley says. “The best way to prepare for politics is work in the field or hold it accountable.”
During his time in Student Union, Cranley read The Carroll News avidly; and much like current Student Union officers, his feelings toward the paper ranged from deep appreciation to varying degrees of resentment, depending on the situation. Regardless of Cranley’s feelings, his experience with the newspaper benefited him greatly.
“My dealings with the newspaper during my time as Student Union president was great preparation for dealing with the press, as I do now daily,” he says. “I read it closely. Grappling with that kind of accountability from the press is an excellent exercise.”
Cranley’s time at the University culminated in graduating with the prestige of magna cum laude, but he never forgot his background with the Jesuits.
“By the time I went to Harvard, I knew I wanted to go into public service, which
is something I attribute to the Jesuits, who taught me to pursue excellence, which is what Harvard is all about,” he says. “It turbocharged my feeling we should use our God-given talent best, whatever we choose to do.”
After attending Harvard, Cranley served on Cincinnati’s City Council for eight years, consistently tackling hard-hitting social issues such as helping lessen racial animosity, passing a living minimum wage law for all city workers, and passing a law that added LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) people to those protected under the city’s hate-crime laws. In the midst of a career on city council, Cranley couldn’t help but thinking his talents could be better used in higher capacity, so he decided to run for mayor.
“I love this city, and thought we could do bigger and better things,” he says.
When Cranley was elected mayor of Cincinnati in 2013, he was excited and relieved. After running two unsuccessful races for Congress, his victory as mayor was gratifying.
“Half of life is getting back on the horse after you’ve fallen off,” he says. “Losing makes victory that much sweeter.
In keeping with Jesuit ideals, Cranley’s main focus is fighting for those who often don’t have a voice. He plans to:
• increase job growth;
• expand opportunities for the unemployed;
• provide services that give people the skill sets they need to be successful;
• put dignity and pride back into the families of poor neighborhoods;
• make unsafe pockets of the city safer for kids;
• create quality neighborhoods; and
• provide adequate green space.
When it comes to advice for current Carroll students, the mayor stresses involvement.
“Whether it’s Student Union, charity work, or writing for The Carroll News, get involved,” he says. JCU
– Mary Frances McGowan ’17
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