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News: Up in the Air

There's little predictable about this year's elections

By Gregory Flannery · November 7th, 2007 · News
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  Mitch Painter plants a sign.
Natalie Hager

Mitch Painter plants a sign.



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Hey -- don't forget to check out www.citybeat.com. CityBeat will have reactions from the winning and losing candidates, supporters and opponents of ballot initiatives and interested observers -- plus lots of photos.

The 2007 election campaign has been one of the strangest Greater Cincinnati has seen in recent years.

Usually dominated by the race for Cincinnati City Council, this time the odd-year race included a controversial county issue -- a sales tax for a new jail -- that also attracted lots of attention. If, as many observers often claim, voters want cooperation between partisan foes, they got the opportunity to make it official Nov.

6.

On the jail tax (Issue 27), voters had to pick between two sides that featured unusual political alliances. In favor of the tax was ultraconservative icon Sheriff Simon Leis Jr., working in close collaboration with the local progressive standard-bearer, County Commissioner Todd Portune. Working against them was an ad hoc coalition of progressives who favor treatment programs over incarceration as a crime-reduction strategy, joining forces with anti-tax conservatives.

In the race for city council, a liberal Democrat, Greg Harris, similarly made common cause with a Republican conservative, John Eby. But that was just one of the anomalies in the biennial council campaign:

· Four former council members were among the 25 candidates vying for nine seats on council: Sam Malone, ousted by voters two years ago after being arrested for domestic violence (he was later acquitted), and three officeholders displaced by council term limits -- the Rev. Charlie Winburn, a Republican; Minette Cooper, a Democrat; and former Mayor Roxanne Qualls, formerly one of the Democrats' strongest vote-getters who ran this time as a member of the Charter Committee.

· Following a record-setting year for homicides in Cincinnati, one well-known survivor made a big splash early in the season only to recede as the campaign reached its end. After her husband was gunned down in front of his own home -- a crime that shocked the city -- Melanie Bates, a member of the Cincinnati Board of Education, decided to run for city council. Backed by the Charter Committee, Bates' campaign was unable to sustain the interest it generated at the start.

· Brian Garry, who made his mark in demonstrations and civil disobedience in the manner of his mentor, the late Rev. Maurice McCrackin, surprised many by winning the Democratic Party's endorsement, with support from prominent party leaders. But the mainstream has a way of washing away the very characteristics that give a candidate name recognition to begin with. Garry thus succeeded in the curious exercise of expunging his arrest for assaulting a police horse -- a charge for which he'd already been acquitted.

Cincinnati Public Schools faced a vexing combination of a large tax levy, the loss of two incumbent board members who chose not to seek re-election and the need to hire a new superintendent. Winners of the three open seats -- at least two of whom will be newcomers -- are certain to have a busy term.

For a full report on the Nov. 6 election results, check out www.citybeat.com. CityBeat will have reactions from the winning and losing candidates, supporters and opponents of ballot initiatives and interested observers -- plus lots of photos. ©

 
 
 
 

 

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