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Shontel Brown

Shontel Brown

Served in the U.S. House of Representatives, 2021-present

Born: 1975 in Cleveland, OH

Education: A.B., Cuyahoga Community College; B.S., Wilberforce University

Prior Experience: Member of the Warrensville Heights City Council from 2012 - 2015; Member of the Cuyahoga County Council from 2015 - 2021

Age When First Elected to the U.S. House: 46

Length of Service: 2 terms (as of September 2023)

How She Entered the U.S. House: Ran in 2021 in a special election after Representative Marcia Fudge became Secretary of HUD

Party: Democrat

  • Shontel Brown

    Representative Shontel Brown with Cleveland Mayor Justin Bibb. Photo: Office of Representative Shontel Brown

  • Shontel Brown

    President Joe Biden walks with Representative Shontel Brown. Photo: Office of Representative Shontel Brown

  • Shontel Brown

    Photo: Office of Representative Shontel Brown

  • Shontel Brown

    Photo: Office of Representative Shontel Brown

  • Shontel Brown

    Representative Shontel Brown with Representative Joyce Beatty. Photo: Office of Representative Shontel Brown


As Shontel Brown explained, public service is "something that is innate in my family. I grew up around it. We were always active members in our church. I viewed it as an honor and privilege to help others" (Cassano). Like Representative Marcia Fudge, Brown began her political career in Warrensville Heights, Ohio. In 2011, Brown watched the news about the earthquake and tsunami in Japan and wondered about the ability of her own community to handle a major emergency. She attended a city council meeting and was told, "All is well." Dubious, she went door-to-door and talked with residents about their concerns and eventually decided to run herself. She won by seven votes (Hannan). In 2014, with the backing of Fudge, Brown successfully ran for Cuyahoga County Council. In 2017, she became the first Black woman to be Chair of the Cuyahoga County Democratic Party.

Brown faced an unusual and challenging electoral path to the U.S. House. In 2021, Representative Fudge, who served in Ohio's 11th congressional district, was nominated by President Joe Biden to become Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, creating an open seat to be filled in a special election. Thirteen Democrats ran in the August primary. While eleven of the candidates each received less than 2% of the vote, Brown's main competition was Nina Turner, a former Cleveland City Council Member, Ohio State Senator, and national co-chair of Bernie Sanders' 2020 presidential campaign. The race gained national media attention with visits from high profile Democrats, including Bernie Sanders. Outside groups also poured millions of dollars into advertising. Billboard and radio ads attacked Turner for saying that voting for Joe Biden in 2020 was like eating a "bowl of s***" in an interview in The Atlantic (Akin). Brown defeated Turner 50% to 45%. In the November general election in the safe Democratic district, Brown defeated Republican Laverne Gore with 79% of the vote.

Turner challenged Brown to a rematch in 2022, when Brown had to run in the regularly scheduled election to hold on to her U.S. House seat. The district had been substantially redrawn in during a controversial redistricting process that dragged on for over six months. In the May Democratic primary, Brown defeated Turner with 63% of the vote. In the fall general election, she would run against Republican Eric Brewer, former mayor of East Cleveland and longtime Democrat who switched to the Republican Party to run against Brown.

During the first six months of her first term, Brown sponsored five bills, including the Afterschool Meals Act of 2022 and the MOVE Act, to expand health, fitness, and counselling services for veterans. She serves on the House Agriculture Committee and the Committee on Oversight and Reform and is a member of the Congressional Black Caucus and Congressional Progressive Caucus.

Learn more about Representative Brown.

Ohio's 11th District

When Brown was first elected in the special election in November of 2021, Ohio's 11th District in the northeastern part of the state was one of the "ugliest" in the nation, described as a "detached shoulder blade with a robotic arm" (Ruger). The safe Democratic and majority Black urban district included part of Cleveland and reached down to Akron. Ohio voters approved a new redistricting process via a ballot initiative that was used for the first time after the 2020 census, and after multiple court challenges, Brown's district was substantially redrawn for the 2022 election cycle and was no longer a majority-minority district. The new redistricting process required that at least 50% of the minority party (Democrats) in the state legislature had to vote for the map or it must be redrawn in four years. Because the map passed without any Democratic support, Brown's district will be redrawn again in 2024.

11th District Map, 2012-21

11th District Map 2012-21

11th District Map, Beginning in 2022

11th District Map 2022

Election History:

Year Opponent Brown's % of 2-Party Vote
2021 Laverne Gore 78.9%
2022 Eric Brewer

Sources and Resources:

Akin, Stephanie. 2021. "Shontel Brown tops progressive favorite Nina Turner in Ohio's 11th District primary." Roll Call.

Cassano, Erik. 2019. "County Democratic Party Chair Started Her Path at Tri-C." Cuyahoga Community College.

Hannan, Sheehan. 2017. "Shontel Brown Hopes to Bring People Together." Cleveland Magazine.

"Representative Shontel Brown."n.d.

Ruger, Todd. 2018. "Voters Challenge Ohio Congressional Map as Partisan Gerrymander," Roll Call.

"Shontel Brown." n.d.