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City Campaign Season Heating up

By John Fox · April 1st, 2009 · Editorial

The race for Cincinnati Mayor and City Council inches forward as the calendar turns to April, though we’re far from shifting into full campaign mode. Still, signs of life are peeking up as surely as the crabgrass in my front yard.

At least one new face will be on council by December, as Councilman David Crowley is term-limited from running again. Any council member who runs for mayor, unlikely as that seems now, will have to give up his or her seat as well.

The local parties’ endorsed slates for council are taking shape beyond the eight incumbents. The Republican Party is offering consultant Amy Murray; conservative wingnut Charles Winburn, a former council member; and attorney George Zamary. The Charter Committee is endorsing attorney and UC law professor Kevin Flynn.

The Democrats aren’t as far along in the endorsement process, with five possible challenger slots available to go with four incumbents. The Hamilton County Democratic Forum is hosting a public event Tuesday to give potential candidates an opportunity to make their case in person before the final endorsement committee decisions.

If you want to join the fun — or you want to throw your own hat in the city council ring — plan on being at the 20th Century Theatre in Oakley Square from 7-9 p.m. April 7. Wear something sexy for the swimsuit competition.

There’s little activity to speak of with the mayor’s race. I’ve heard nothing but cricket chirps since Mark Mallory announced his re-election plans March 11.

There was plenty of speculation last summer and fall that Mallory might move back to Columbus to become Ohio Treasurer if, as expected, Richard Cordray won the special election to become Attorney General. Mallory denied he was interested in the position, but that didn’t stop pundits from kicking around possible successor names.

The list began with John Cranley, serving his final council term due to term limits, and Roxanne Qualls, the former mayor who’s completing her first term back on council. Also mentioned as possible mayoral candidates were State Rep. Tyrone Yates, facing his own term limit in 2010; Hamilton County Coroner O’dell Owens, one of the few Democrats to win countywide in the past 40 years; and Steve Chabot, a former city councilman who lost his Congressional re-election bid.

Cordray did win, but Mallory stayed put — and one by one his potential rivals have fallen away. Cranley left council, Yates announced he was running for the U.S. Senate in 2010 and Chabot said he’d focus on taking back his 1st District seat from U.S. Rep. Steve Driehaus. Qualls is running for re-election to city council, and Owens has never publicly stated any interest in the mayor’s job.

Mallory has no opposition at this point. And given the state of turmoil locally, nationally and worldwide, it’s inconceivable that any office-holder would get a free pass this year — particularly Cincinnati’s (and in many ways the region’s) top public official.

CONTACT JOHN FOX: jfox@citybeat.com



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