Jan-Michele Lemon Kearney Will Be Cincinnati's Next Vice Mayor

Mayor-Elect Aftab Pureval made the announcement Thursday morning.

click to enlarge Cincinnati City Council member Jan-Michele Lemon Kearney fields media questions on Nov. 18, 2021, after Mayor-Elect Aftab Pureval announced that she would become his vice mayor in January. - Photo: Allison Babka
Photo: Allison Babka
Cincinnati City Council member Jan-Michele Lemon Kearney fields media questions on Nov. 18, 2021, after Mayor-Elect Aftab Pureval announced that she would become his vice mayor in January.

A familiar face will step into the vice mayor role when Cincinnati Mayor-Elect Aftab Pureval's administration takes over in January.

During a Nov. 18 briefing with reporters, Pureval announced that Cincinnati City Council member Jan-Michele Lemon Kearney will serve as vice mayor. The announcement comes just days after Pureval named his administration's transition team of Michael Fisher, president and CEO of Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center; Stephanie Jones, a former senior official with the Barack Obama administration; and former Cincinnati mayor Mark Mallory.

"This is one of my first and most important decisions. In Jan-Michele, I believe we have hit a home run," Pureval said Thursday.

Fittingly, Kearney's announcement took place at Rockdale Academy in Avondale, which the incoming vice mayor said she had attended through sixth grade. She also mentioned that Rockdale and Avondale in general pushed her to meet and marry her husband former State Senator Eric Kearney.

"I feel like in some way, God had this plan that I didn't know about to meet Eric and marry Eric. I also feel that God had a plan for me to serve the people of Cincinnati," she said.

Kearney was appointed to Cincinnati City Council in 2020 after Tamaya Dennard was arrested on corruption charges and later resigned. The Cincinnati Herald publisher has taken an interest in gun issues, including questioning the Cincinnati Police Department’s gun range in Evendale. 

During the Nov. 2 general election -- the same one that revealed Pureval as Cincinnati's next mayor -- Kearney was the top vote-getter of all 35 City Council candidates, with 28,161 votes. On Thursday, Kearney said that working with the council and getting its new members up to speed on laws and procedures would be important.

Kearney said she shares Pureval's priorities of economic development, equitable housing, public safety, environmental issues and infrastructure through a racial equity lens.

"Racial equity is a thread that runs through all of these topics," Kearney said. "So as we progress as a city, we have to make sure that we pay attention to the under-served, to the people who are left behind. We have to work for everybody so that everybody has opportunities to advance and to have a safe and thriving life."

"Our zip codes should not be the determinant of our lifespan as it is now. So we have work to do," she continued.

Kearney also said that Pureval reminded her of her friend, former U.S. President Barack Obama. Kearney had gone to Harvard Law School with Obama.

"It's because of his spirit of collaboration. He really cares for what people think -- the way he's really dedicated and he's sincere about the work that he does," Kearney said.

On Jan. 1, Pureval will replace Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley, who is ending his second and final term this year. Cranley is now is campaigning to become Ohio’s governor in 2022, joining current Governor Mike DeWine, Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley and others in the race.

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