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Stephanie Tubbs Jones

Representative Stephanie Tubbs Jones

Served in the U.S. House of Representatives, 1999-2008

Born: 1949 in Cleveland, Ohio

Died: 2008 in Cleveland, Ohio

Education: BA, Case Western Reserve University, 1971; JD, Case Western Reserve University, 1974

Prior Experience: Cleveland Municipal Court Judge in 1981; Court of Common Pleas of Cuyahoga County Judge from 1983-1991; Prosecutor for Cuyahoga County from 1991-1998

Age When First Elected to the U.S. House: 48

Length of Service: 5 terms

How She Entered the U.S. House: Ran in 1998 for open seat after Representative Louis Stokes retired

How She Exited the U.S. House: Passed away in August 2008

Party: Democrat

  • Judge Tubbs Jones for the Court of Common Pleas in Ohio

    Tubbs Jones was the first Black woman on the Court of Common Pleas in Ohio, 1983. Photo: Cleveland Public Library.

  • Tubbs Jones being sworn in to US House

    Tubbs Jones is sworn in as the first Black woman elected from Ohio by former US House Member Louis Stokes, January 1999. Photo: Cleveland Public Library.

  • Representative Stephanie Tubbs Jones

    Photo: Cleveland Public Library

  • Tubbs Jones running for Prosecutor of Cuyahoga County

    Tubbs Jones running for Prosecutor of Cuyahoga County. Photo: Cleveland Public Library

  • Representative Tubbs Jones

    Photo: Cleveland Public Library


During her 3 decades of public service, Stephanie Tubbs Jones earned many "firsts." In 1983, she was the first Black woman on the Court of Common Pleas in Ohio. In 1991, she was the first Black person and the first woman to serve as a prosecutor in Cuyahoga County. She was also the first Black woman elected to Congress from Ohio.

Representative Louis Stokes, an icon in Cleveland politics and the first black sent to Congress from Ohio, announced he would retire in 1998 after a 30 year career in the House. Although she loved being prosecutor, Tubbs Jones called the open seat the "opportunity of a lifetime" (Eaton). At her press conference announcing her candidacy, she proclaimed, "I'm in, I'm in, I'm in!" and that she would be "a new face for an old struggle" (Ewinger & Vickers). Running in a district that was majority Black, Tubbs Jones explained, "People say I'm able to go places and get votes and people don't think about the color of my skin" (Tinsley). She won a 5-way Democratic primary with 51% of the vote and then won the general with 86% of the vote. From then on, her seat was considered safe.

In the 108th Congress (2003 - 2005), she became the first Black woman to serve on the powerful House Ways and Means Committee. In the 110th Congress (2007 - 2009), she became Chair of the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct (the ethics committee), making her the first Black woman to Chair a standing House committee. In 2005, after making national headlines for interrupting the official counting of presidential electoral votes to call attention to voting problems in Ohio, she sponsored the Count Every Vote Act to improve voter accessibility and electronic voting machine security.

In August of 2008, Tubbs Jones died suddenly of a brain aneurysm. As an organ donor, Tubbs Jones helped over 50 people. In October, Congress passed a bill that increased funding for organ donations and created the "Stephanie Tubbs Jones Gift of Life" commemorative medal for organ donors and their families. Tubbs Jones was succeeded by Marcia Fudge, one of her oldest friends and colleagues.

Ohio's 11th District

Stephanie Tubbs Jones represented Ohio's 11th district. This reliably Democratic district sent Ohio's first Black person to Congress, Louis Stokes, in 1968. When Tubbs Jones was first elected in 1998 after Stokes retired, the district was quite compact and was entirely within the eastern part of Cuyahoga County, including most of Cleveland and some of the eastern suburbs, but had a narrow jagged "tail" that extended far into the west side of the city. The district was almost 60% Black. In 2002, the district remained largely the same (shown here), and while it lost its tail, was still overwhelmingly Democratic and majority Black. Tubbs Jones was succeeded by another Black woman, Marcia Fudge, in 2008.

Election History


Republican Opponent

Tubbs Jones' % of 2-Party Vote

1998 James Hereford 86.1%
2000 James Sykora 88.4%
2002 Patrick Pappano 76.3%
2004 Unopposed 100%
2006 Lindsey String 83.4%

District Map

Ohio's 11th District Map

Ohio's 11th District

Sources and Resources:

The Almanac of American Politics, (various editions).

CQ's Politics in America, (various editions).

Eaton, Sabrina. 1998. "Tubbs Jones Ready to Adjust to Congress; Prosecutor Expects to Resign at End of Year," Cleveland Plain Dealer, November 8th.

Ewinger, James & Robert Vickers. 1998. "Tubbs Jones Enters Race for US House; Cuyahoga Prosecutor to Seek Stokes' Seat," Cleveland Plain Dealer, February 11th.

Foerstel, Karen. 1999. Biographical Dictionary of Congressional Women. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.

Koff, Stephen. 2008. "Stephanie Tubbs Jones, Passionate Politician, Dies at 58," Cleveland Plain Dealer, August 20th.

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Tinsley, Jesse. 1998. "Tubbs Jones Targets Issue of Race: People Vote Along Racial Lines, She Says," Cleveland Plain Dealer, February 26th.

"Tubbs Jones, Stephanie." Women in Congress, U. S. House of Representatives Office of the Clerk,,-Stephanie-Tubbs-(J000284)/