News: Mallory Wins Mayor's Job

Staff says he's already working on it

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Mayor-Elect Mark Mallory confided to supporters Nov. 8 that he had planned to jump off the Brent Spence Bridge if he didn't win the election, then added a bungee cord was always part of that plan.

Instead he's already jumping headfirst into the transition from his seat in the Ohio Senate to leader at Cincinnati City Hall. Mallory said he plans on sitting down soon with the new city council to find out who is interested in being vice mayor.

Asked the morning after Election Day what his plans are, Mallory's opponent, Councilman David Pepper, said, "Breakfast."

Early returns put Pepper in the lead for several hours, prompting Barry Gee of Cincinnati Advance, a young professionals group, to voice what many thought.

"I think Mallory would be good for the city," he said. "I voted for Mallory. But if I had to put money on it, I'd say Pepper is going to win."

Despite a close primary finish in September, with Pepper edging out Mallory with only a 146-vote margin, the general mumblings among those watching results at the Hamilton County Board of Elections favored Pepper.

"We led for most of the race," Pepper said.

"It was obviously a close race but someone's got to win and someone's got to lose."

Final unofficial results showed Mallory with 36,201 votes and Pepper with 33,664.

Ready to communicate
After introducing his parents as his heroes, Mallory thanked voters, volunteers, staff and his family for the hard work that brought about the win.

"We are going to bring energy to this city like we haven't seen in a long time," he said during a victory celebration at the Millennium Hotel.

Frequently drowned out by chants of "Mallory, Mallory, Mallory," the 10-year state senator and representative said he planned to celebrate a good victory.

"Tomorrow we're gonna get busy," he said.

But Simone Lightfoot, his campaign manager, disagreed with her boss, saying the work was already underway. Staffers started working on the transition within hours of getting the final results, Lightfoot said.

Most of the Mallory campaign staff will move with him to City Hall, and they've already been charged with getting reporters from every media outlet into his office for regular press briefings, according to Lightfoot.

"He wants every paper from the community press, he wants everyone there," she said. "He's going to make himself available to the media every Monday."

That makes it appear that Mallory is committed to the fundamental need for communication that he outlined during a brief stop at the board of elections late Nov. 8.

"It's the same for council as it is in families, for everyone: The key to the future is communication," Mallory said. "The key to building a team on council is communication, interpersonal communication."

Pamela Swafford, deputy director of the board of elections made it clear she approved of Mallory's communication style as she gave him a hug.

"You were a gentleman throughout the campaign," Swafford said. "You kept it clean. I'm proud of you."

Mallory's family is living up to an old moniker, the "Dynasty from Dayton Street." Police Officer Thomas Fisher coined the phrase years ago, according to Terry Sharp, a Mallory campaign volunteer who drove voters to the polls on Election Day. His passengers agreed, citing the Mallory family's reputation for being committed to community service.

Cincinnati wants a mayor who knows "the small people" and will pay attention to their needs, Sharp said.

"Small businesses, the elderly, kids, the people who don't have a connection to city government — Mark will make those connections," he said. "And he has the outside connections to bring new people and new opportunities into the city."

William Mallory Sr., the new mayor's father and former Ohio House Majority Leader, called his son's effort "the most masterful campaign in Cincinnati history."

"It was a true grassroots campaign," Mallory Sr. said. "Many people who were not a part of the campaign got out into the neighborhoods and spread the word."

Pepper still has hope
Mallory Sr. acknowledged he was a little worried when Pepper had a 12 percent lead, but said he remained confident, believing in his son's ability to attract a broad base of support across ethnic, social and political lines.

Dale Mallory, the candidate's brother, also confessed to feeling the tension when the early numbers weren't looking good. But, a veteran of many local campaigns, he said he knew the first wards reporting in would go to Pepper. Those that were Mallory strongholds would come in later and overcome Pepper's 4,000-vote lead.

In the spring Dale Mallory said his younger brother was "on a mission of the people" and predicted he'd win. After the vote, he said the prediction had nothing to do with clairvoyance but rather Mark Mallory's commitment to the community and his desire to bring about positive change.

"We need to connect the neighborhood and the people back with the city," Dale Mallory said. "Mark will do that."

Pepper said little about his plans. His term on council expires Dec. 1, when Mallory and the new council take office.

"You run to win so you don't think about anything but winning," Pepper said. "I've said from the beginning that I'm not a career politician so I don't sit around thinking about things like that. Life is not all about politics."

Even so, he hopes that some of the plans he outlined during his campaign will be implemented. Noting that he assisted some of the new winners during their campaigns, Pepper said some of those individuals strongly believe in his plans.

"I would have liked to lead and work with them to implement the plans I laid out but it's a good mix of people," he said. "It's going to be an interesting group, a real improvement."

Before heading back to the hotel with family, close friends and staff, Mallory said he knows he's got his work cut out for him.

"People clearly said they want change in how business is done at city hall," he said. ©

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