Mayoral Primary the Start of Something Big

One of the most important elections in Cincinnati history starts Tuesday with the non-partisan primary for mayor. The top two finishers then square off to determine the city's next political leader,

Sep 7, 2005 at 2:06 pm

One of the most important elections in Cincinnati history starts Tuesday with the non-partisan primary for mayor. The top two finishers then square off to determine the city's next political leader, with the final vote on Nov. 8.

No matter who ultimately emerges from the field of seven candidates, change is coming to Cincinnati. Well, one can hope.

In essence, the person who wins this race will be the first Cincinnati mayor in modern times who actually wanted the job. Up until four years ago, no one campaigned to be mayor — city council members took turns being mayor or the highest council vote-getter became mayor.

And the job was largely ceremonial or procedural, as the mayor signed proclamations and ran council meetings but had no more power than his or her fellow council members.

The 2001 mayoral election was the first under new rules that dictated a head-to-head campaign and gave the mayor's office expanded powers, including a four-year term. But coming after the riots, no one — including incumbent Charlie Luken — could muster much enthusiasm to change horses, and he easily beat political novice and TV newsman Courtis Fuller.

With Luken's retirement, a new generation is scrambling to fill the void and break the status quo's stranglehold on Cincinnati.

It's pretty much a given that the city's next mayor will be young (of the top three contenders, Mark Mallory is the oldest at 42) and there's a good chance he or she will be an African American (Mallory and Alicia Reece are among the favorites to win).

City residents should be pleased with the campaign so far, which has produced lots of ideas, plans and proposals with a minimum of personal attacks that turn off voters. The head-to-head campaign that begins next week ideally will provide contrasting leadership styles along with some congealing of shared goals for Cincinnati.

Polls in Cincinnati are open from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday. Contact the Board of Elections if you're unsure about where to vote (www.hamilton-co.org/boe).

If you're still researching the candidates, CityBeat's Web site has 20 recent articles and columns on the mayoral race for background and links to candidate Web sites; check out www.citybeat.com/mayor.

Check www.citybeat.com next week for post-election coverage, and follow the mayoral and city council races through early November each week in CityBeat. ©