Dennis Kucinich first came to national prominence in 1977 when he was elected mayor of Cleveland at age 31; the youngest person ever elected to lead a major American city. In 1978, Cleveland’s banks demanded that he sell the city’s 70- year-old municipally owned electric system to its private competitor (in which the banks had a financial interest) as a precondition of extending credit to city government. Kucinich refused to sell Muny Light. In an incident unprecedented in modern American politics, Cleveland banks plunged the city into default for a mere $15 million. Kucinich lost his reelection bid in 1979.
Fifteen years later, Kucinich made his first step toward a political comeback, winning election to the Ohio Senate on the strength of the expansion of the city’s light system which provides low-cost power to almost half the residents of Cleveland. In 1998, the Cleveland City Council honored him for, “having the courage and foresight to refuse to sell the city’s municipal electric system.”
Kucinich was born in Cleveland, Ohio, on October 8, 1946. He is the eldest of 7 children of Frank and Virginia Kucinich. He and his family lived in twenty-one places, including a couple of cars, by the time Kucinich was 17 years old. “I live each day with a grateful heart and a desire to be of service to humanity,” he says.
As chairman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus (which is the largest congressional caucus), Kucinich has promoted a national health care system, preservation of Social Security, increased unemployment Insurance benefits, and the establishment of wholesale cost-based rates for electricity, natural gas and home heating oil. When the Supreme Court ruled that mandatory arbitration could be a condition of employment, Kucinich introduced a bill to reverse the court’s decision.
He not only believes in sustainability, he practices it. Congressman Kucinich is one of the few vegans in Congress, a dietary decision he credits not only with improving his health, but in deepening his belief in the sacredness of all species. In the 106th Congress, his call for labeling and safety testing of all genetically engineered foods provoked a $50 million advertising campaign by the biotech industry. Kucinich hosted an international parliamentary session, attended by officials of 18 countries, on the social, economic, political and health impact of genetic food technologies.
US Representative Dennis J. Kucinich, a Democrat of Ohio, is a dynamic, visionary leader of the Progressive Caucus of the congressional Democrats who combines a powerful activism with a spiritual sense of the essential interconnectedness of all living things. His holistic world view carries with it a passionate commitment to public, service, peace, human rights, workers rights, and the environment. His advocacy of a Department of Peace seeks not only to make nonviolence an organizing principle in our society, but to make war archaic. His is a powerful, ethical voice for nuclear disarmament, preservation of the ABM treaty, banning weapons in outer space, and a halt to the development of a ‘Star Wars’ – type missile defense technology.
He has been recognized for his advocacy of human rights in Burma, Nigeria and East Timor. Together with the late Rep. Joe Moakley (D-Mass), he has led a concerted effort to close the School of the Americas, which has been an incubator of human rights violations in Central America.
On the eve of the World Trade Organization’s Seattle conference, Rep. Kucinich organized 114 Democrats to help convince President Clinton to seek human rights, worker’s rights and environmental quality principles as preconditions in all US trade agreements. Kucinich marched with workers through the streets of Seattle protesting the WTO’s policies and with students through the streets of Washington, DC, challenging the structural readjustment policies of the IMF.
From Dennis Kucinich:
“As co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus with Rep. Barbara Lee, I have worked hand in hand for years with the Congressional Black Caucus battling for civil rights and social justice. Recently, I joined with the Black Caucus in efforts to abolish the racially biased death penalty, to defend affirmative action and get more funding for AIDS. As a candidate for President, I offer a different vision for America, one which separates me from the other candidates. I am the only candidate who will take this country away from fear and war and tax giveaways, and use America’s peace dividend for guaranteed health care for all, ending health care for profit.
As president, I will cancel NAFTA and the WTO, restore our manufacturing jobs, save our family farms, create full employment programs. I will repeal the Patriot Act to regain for all Americans the sacred right of privacy in our homes, our libraries, our schools. I will reverse course on the racially biased Drug War that has often been a war against minorities and the poor.”