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Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

TUBBS JONES, STEPHANIE

TUBBS JONES, STEPHANIE

TUBBS JONES, STEPHANIE (10 September 1949 - 20 August 2008) was the first African American woman from Ohio elected to the United States House of Representatives, and served the state's eleventh congressional district for nearly ten years. Prior to her election to Congress, Tubbs Jones was Chief Prosecutor of Cuyahoga County.

Born in Cleveland to Mary Looney Tubbs, a factory worker, and Andrew Tubbs, a skycap at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport, Tubbs Jones graduated from CASE WESTERN RESERVE UNIVERSITY in 1971, and received her law degree at the school three years later. From 1976 until 1979 Tubbs Jones worked as the assistant prosecutor of Cuyahoga County and won election as a Cleveland Municipal Court judge in 1981. In 1991 she was named Chief Prosecutor of Cuyahoga County. In 1998 she attracted controversy when she refused to reopen an investigation into the 1954 murder of the wife of Dr. Sam Sheppard. (See SHEPPARD MURDER CASE) Tubbs Jones claimed that the DNA samples that Sheppard's supporters wanted reviewed were inadmissible because they were too old. It was also in 1998 that Tubbs Jones was elected as a Democrat to the eleventh district House seat, replacing Louis Stokes after his retirement.

Tubbs Jones spent much of her congressional career on the House Ways and Means Committee; after the 2006 election Nancy Pelosi selected her to chair the House Ethics Committee. Tubbs Jones co-sponsored legislation to broaden health care coverage for low and middle income people and legislation to promote programs that supported the re-entry of convicts into their communities. She authored legislation that required certification for mortgage brokers and stiffer penalties for predatory loans. Tubbs Jones was also an active member of the Congressional Black Caucus.

In early 2005 when Congress officially ratified the election of George W. Bush, Tubbs Jones and Senator Barbara Boxer, a California Democrat, initiated a challenge to Bush's election. The two women objected to the acceptance of Ohio's twenty electoral votes, due to voting irregularities in the state. Congressional lawmakers retreated to their separate chambers to debate the issue, and after Congress reconvened both the House and Senate voted against the challenge. It was only the second time since 1877 that a presidential election faced such a challenge.

Various prominent political figures fondly recalled Tubbs Jones after her death, as former President Bill Clinton and his wife Hillary Clinton said that she was "one of a kind" as well as "unwavering, indefatigable." Barack Obama said "It wasn't enough for her just to break barriers in her own life¿she was also determined to bring opportunity to all those who had been overlooked and left behind - and in Stephanie, they had a fearless friend and unyielding advocate." Tubbs Jones married her husband, Mervyn L. Jones Sr. in 1976; he died of heart failure in 2003. The couple had one son, Mervyn II, who was born in 1983.


Stephanie Tubbs Jones Papers, WRHS