George L. Forbes

George Lawrence Forbes (born April 4, 1931) is an American politician of the Democratic Party. From 1974 to 1989, Forbes served as one of the most powerful presidents of Cleveland City Council. In 1961, he passed the Ohio bar exam and began practing law. In 1963, he became a Cleveland councilman for Ward 27. At this time, Forbes was one of ten African Americans in the thirty seats in council. He later was elected council president in 1973 and assumed office in 1974.

About a year later in 1975, Forbes and other (unspecified) investors bought out popular AM talk-radio station WERE and converted it into an all-news format that promptly flopped.

Forbes was a polished politician and knew the ins and outs of the trade, eventually training future Cleveland mayor, Michael R. White. During the mayoral administration of Dennis Kucinich, Forbes sided with the unyielding banking interests against Kucinich before the city plunged into default. When George V. Voinovich became mayor in 1980, he made peace with council and Forbes. Due to Voinovich's low-key persona and Forbes's forthright attitude, critics of the Voinovich administration asserted that the mayor was giving Forbes too much power.

When Voinovich announced that he would not seek a fourth term as mayor in 1989, Forbes entered the heavily-contested mayoral race. He made it through the primary, but was defeated in the general election by his own protégé, Michael R. White. However, Forbes was gracious in defeat and decided to leave politics for private practice. In 1992, Forbes returned to the public scene and won the presidency of the local NAACP.


  • The Cleveland 200: The Most Noted, Notable and Notorious in the First 200 Years of a Great American City by Thomas Kelly ISBN 0-9644509-2-5
  • The Battle of Cleveland: Public Interest Challenges Corporate Power by Dan Marschall

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