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Cincinnati Chooses Change

By Gregory Flannery · November 16th, 2005 · All The News That Fits
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The voters made their choices Nov. 8.

Ohio was not interested in substantially changing its election system, rejecting four state constitutional amendments by margins of 64 percent or higher each. A proposal to issue bonds for technology research, rejected by voters last year, won approval this time around, apparently owing to the addition of funds for repairing roads, bridges and sewers across the state. The statewide tally was 1.42 million votes in favor and 1.2 million against.

Cincinnati hired itself a new mayor, State Sen. Mark Mallory, whose four-year term begins Dec. 1. Mallory beat City Councilman David Pepper in spite of being substantially outspent; he'll succeed Charlie Luken, who decided last year not to seek re-election.

The mayoral race took a twist as the final districts in the city were counted. After being behind throughout the tally, Mallory surged ahead when the final ward results were counted. The final unofficial tally showed Mallory with 36,201 votes and Pepper with 33,664.

Given a chance to elect a minimum of two new members of city council, voters opted for four. Pepper and Alicia Reece lost their seats by going after the mayor's job. Voters then dismissed a pair of one-term incumbent councilmen, Republican Sam Malone and Charterite Christopher Smitherman.

The four new members of council are Democrats Jeff Berding, sales director for the Bengals, and Cecil Thomas, a former city cop and former director of the Cincinnati Human Relations Commission; Charterite Chris Bortz, nephew of former Mayor Arn Bortz; and Republican Leslie Ghiz, former labor attorney for the city.

The four new members of the nine-person city council and the new mayor aren't the only new faces expected in City Hall as a result of the election. Mallory and council will hire a new city manager, following what Mallory says will be a nationwide search.

The city council election had to come as a blow to the Rev. Damon Lynch III, whose last-minute, independent candidacy in 2003 nearly succeeded. This time he ran with the full backing of the Democratic Party, yet finished no better than 12th. Some observers said Lynch -- never known to have trouble attracting public attention -- ran a less than rigorous campaign, while others said that was in keeping with many of the initiatives Lynch has started over the years.

City Councilman John Cranley, a Democrat, led the field of candidates for council. His mother, Susan Cranley, similarly finished first in her race for a seat on the Cincinnati School Board, her first bid for public office. Newcomer Eileen Cooper Reed, former Ohio director of the Children's Defense Fund, also won a seat on the board.

Voters rejected the re-election effort of Harriet Russell, a longtime incumbent on the board of education, but kept incumbent Catherine Ingram.

The Democrats' vaunted revival of two-party contests in races for judicial seats in Hamilton County Municipal Court led to just a single victory, with Ted Berry Jr. unseating Judge Kendal Coes.

A chance to claim a modest tax break left Cincinnati voters unmoved for the second consecutive year. The measure would have rolled back a city property tax over the course of 10 years but lost by a margin of 39,270 to 25,432.

A charter amendment changing the way city council receives salary increases, however, passed handily. Until now council got a raise every time the Ohio General assembly gave one to county commissioners; now council will have vote on its own pay hikes. The charter amendment passed 40,851 to 22,321.

For a more detailed account of the election, including photos from Election Day and Night, visit citybeat.com/ mayor.



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