Dena Cranley. Photo provided

By Dena Cranley

My name is Dena Cranley and I am the wife of Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley. As a subscriber of The Cincinnati Herald, I decided to submit this letter with the hope that it would be printed and counter-balance some of the recent negative commentaries about my husband. Unlike my husband (and most politicians), I am a very private person and it has been an adjustment for me to be married to someone who’s in the public eye. It’s been just over three years since John was elected mayor, and I feel compelled to write this piece that will hopefully shed some light on the true character of person who I married.

Throughout John’s service, many people have asked what is John “really” like. If anyone can set the record straight about who John is beyond the rhetoric, it would be his parents and me.

Over the last 12 years, I have come to know that John is not a “typical politician.” When we met for the first time, John was serving as a City Council member. You can say I was pretty jaded with how our city was being run at the time. Mostly skeptical of politicians, I certainly didn’t think I would marry one – but I believe God throws you a curve ball once in a while. Since the night we met, John’s values have not changed or wavered. He puts them into action every day as mayor, husband and father. Those values are deeply rooted in faith and Jesuit principles. They remain consistent, and are a large part of who we are. Here are some of those values:

Women and men for and with others. In other words, a commitment to faith that pursues justice and helps people living in poverty. John has spent his life pursuing justice, righting wrongs, and helping people overcome poverty. As a student working at Legal Aid to help single mothers get child support to co-founding the Ohio Innocence Project to help exonerate the innocent and reform our criminal justice system responsible for their incarceration, he has helped many people.

As mayor, he built an economic inclusion department to ensure African American and    women-owned businesses get their fair share of City contracts. Why would he campaign on this in 2013 and make it happen? Because it is just and fair and it is women and men for and with others.

Care for the Individual Person. Having a personal concern for the whole life of each citizen of Cincinnati is what keeps us up at night. We have a responsibility to provide everyone the opportunity to have a seat at the table and a voice in the conversation and we must always extend our hand to bring others along with us to make that happen. This is one attribute of a strong leader. The disparities, unfairness, and inequities in our community are heartbreaking. We aren’t just talking about these challenges; we are taking action to overcome them. One example is the Hand Up Initiative that provides job training to help the long-term, unemployed attain a full-time job. Here is a video link to learn more:

Additionally, working with businesses/private sector partners, nonprofits and citizens to tackle childhood poverty is another example of our values being put into action. Why this effort has been criticized by some is incomprehensible. Even the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) establishes public and private partnerships to provide primary education, health care, childhood development, and more to fight for the right of every child. Is this easy, heck no! It will be a journey and we need all hands on deck for this—we are talking about women and children. A top down, bottom up, and all-around approach is what is needed.

Of course, an effort near and dear to my heart: The First Ladies for Health, an initiative that was started by the First Ladies of our area churches and myself to help address health disparities. It is a volunteer, faith-based group with a mission of educating and connecting our community with resources to take charge of their health. We have screened thousands of men, women, and children in the past few years. Our Family Health Day is Sunday, October 8. We will be at 16 locations. For a location nearest you, go to

Strive for Excellence. Anything achieved by a leader is done so with the thought of doing more. Doing more for the city is exactly what John does. He accomplished his campaign goals in the first year as mayor. John is always asking himself, “What’s next?”.

I could write pages upon pages about John’s accomplishments. And if you are inclined to learn more, visit Mostly, my message is about the love and devotion my husband has for our amazing city and its residents. His values are exemplified in his job every day.

Despite what his critics would like you to believe, John puts truth and his values into action for the greater good. And we all know the saying…actions speak louder than words. With his leadership, we have accomplished so much for our city.

I hope this helps answer questions about what John is really like. Here’s the best part, John is just getting started.

Join the Conversation


Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *