Home National news Cincinnati elects Black majority city council

Cincinnati elects Black majority city council

by PRIDE Newsdesk

Jan Michele Lemon Kearney (center) who dominated the Cincinnati City Council race celebrates with Reggie Harris, who was elected to City Council and Mary Wineberg who was elected to Cincinnati School Board. at the Hamilton County Board of Elections on Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2021. (Photo by Andria Carter)

Cincinnati elected a Black majority city council and its first Asian American mayor. Cincinnati has not elected a Black majority on the city council since 2011. It is rare that a Black candidate dominates the city council race and Council member Jan-Michele Lemon Kearney led the race as the top vote-getter.

“We had a really strong group. The Hamilton County Democratic party picked a strong slate and we worked hard together, and we will continue to work together,” Jan-Michele Lemon Kearney said at the Hamilton County Board of Elections. “Working together is the way to win. Instead of being out there being negative, we were positive, and we had values that are strong, and we have a plan to move Cincinnati forward and that is what it really takes.”

Democrats dominated the night winning eight of the nine seats on the city council. Councilwoman Liz Keating is the lone Republican who will retain her seat to which she was appointed. In fact, Kearney and Keating are the only appointed council members who are returning to the city council. Both Steve Goodin and Betsy Sundermann, also appointed to council, failed to attract the votes needed to be in the top nine vote-getters.

Appearing at the Hamilton County Board of Elections, city council candidate Reggie Harris said his winning is very surreal but he is humble and gratified that voters chose him to be on the council.    “I am really excited, and I feel validated because my team and I created a plan and strategy that was central to our values of equity, inclusion and transparency that crafted a message that a wide variety of voters said yes too,” Harris said.

“I am a first-time candidate. I have never done this before and we went with our gut and it’s nice to have a moment in which your gut is validated.”

Voters at various polling locations said they were looking for people who can make change, be grown-ups, show leadership and not allow themselves to be corrupted. Cincinnati residents had a record pool of 35 candidates to choose from. In 2017, voters only had to choose from 23 candidates.

City council candidate Meeka Owens said she is very excited by the results of the race. She said Cincinnatians wanted change. “They [voters] wanted elected officials working on their behalf. They want to see diversity at the city, and they want to see people not just talking but backing that up with action.”

In the mayoral race, history was made by electing Aftab Pureval, the first Asian-Pacific mayor of Cincinnati and in the Midwest.

“We made history,” Pureval declared during his acceptance speech.

From the moment the unofficial early vote numbers were released Pureval, 39, grabbed the lead and never let go. He received 68% of the vote, and the voters never wavered in their selection. Throughout the campaign, long-time career politician David Mann, 81, tried to swing voters his way, but the voters were determined the city needed new leadership.

During his acceptance speech before supporters, Pureval spoke about his parents coming to American and to Ohio to offer their sons a better opportunity. He noted that because of his parent’s courage and bravery to come to a different country, on Election night his family went from refugees to mayor of Cincinnati.

Pureval noted that Cincinnati is the place people can come to make their dreams come true. “I have achieved mine,” he told his supporters.

Although it is not the outcome he wanted, David Mann congratulated Pureval on his win. Tweeting, “Congratulations to Aftab on his well-deserved victory,” he said. Mann then proceeded to thank Cincinnati saying it has been the honor of a lifetime to serve the community.

Pureval won against Mann with 65.75% of the votes.

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