Six Candidates Cemented for Primary Ballot in Cincinnati Mayoral Race

Startup founder Adam Koehler and occupational therapist Kelli Prather lost their challenges to the Hamilton County Board of Elections on Friday.

click to enlarge Cincinnati City Hall - Photo: Nick Swartsell
Photo: Nick Swartsell
Cincinnati City Hall

Two candidates fighting for spots on the primary ballot in Cincinnati’s mayoral race have lost their challenges.

In a special meeting on March 12, the Hamilton County Board of Elections found that startup founder Adam Koehler and occupational therapist Kelli Prather did not qualify to be placed on the primary ballot in May.

As CityBeat reported earlier this month, the BOE did not certify petitions from Koehler and Prather, saying that the would-be candidates did not submit the required 500 valid signatures at the Feb. 18 filing deadline.

Koehler and Prather disputed the board’s findings and presented evidence that they said supported their claims. Prather has publicly claimed that over three separate submissions, she had offered a total of about 3,000 signatures. Both Koehler and Prather formally protested the board’s findings, with the board promising a special review.

On Friday, board members again reviewed Koehler’s and Prather’s gathered signatures and still found that they did not meet the requirements. Members voted 3-1 to reject Koehler’s petition and 3-0 to reject Prather’s (Joe Mallory abstained from Prather’s vote, claiming a conflict of interest).

The board had found earlier in the month that Cincinnati City Council member Wendell Young also did not meet the required threshold for valid signatures, but he did not challenge the decision.

The BOE certified petitions for the remaining candidates back on March 2.

The six candidates in the race are startup founder Gavi Begtrup, Cincinnati City Council member David Mann, educator Herman J. Najoli, retired Cincinnati firefighter Raffel Prophett, Hamilton County clerk of courts Aftab Pureval, and State Sen. Cecil Thomas.

All are Democrats except for Najoli, who is an Independent.

Just before the Feb. 18 filing deadline, federally indicted former Cincinnati City Council member P.G. Sittenfeld and current council member Chris Seelbach withdrew from the race.

The Cincinnati mayoral election is scheduled for Nov. 2. It will be between the top two vote-getters from the May 4 primary. Current mayor John Cranley has served since 2013 and will not run again due to term limits.

To vote in the primary, Hamilton County residents must be registered by April 5.

Find election information on the Hamilton County website.