Community Leaders Respond to New City of Cincinnati Government

CINCINNATI – Cincinnati’s newly elected city hall leaders have only been in office since Wednesday, but local leaders are not waiting to weigh on their expectations for this new term.

What would you like to know

  • Cincinnati has 10 new elected leaders: nine Democrats and one Republican
  • Elected officials spoke about the importance of working together and promoting racial and social equity
  • Leaders of local organizations expressed optimism about working with the new group
  • Some are more careful with the expectations of this new municipal council

The group is made up of nine Democrats and one Republican, Council member Liz Keating. All spoke of their willingness to work together at Town Hall and many, including Keating, often campaigned together.

As a legislature, they have already voted to appoint John Curp, a former city lawyer, as interim city manager when Paula Boggs Muething resigns her post on January 19. They have also started looking for a replacement for Police Chief Eliot Isaac. , who announced his intention to retire earlier this year.

At the inauguration Tuesday in Washington Park, the 10 new sworn-in officials spoke about common themes of hope, promise and the city’s untapped potential.

When addressing the crowd in the park, Pureval reflected on what this moment would mean for his late father, a refugee from Punjab, India.

“He was barely an adult when he and my mother, a refugee from Tibet, made the incredibly courageous decision to leave everything behind in search of a better life,” Pureval said. He is the first Asian-American mayor of a large city in the Midwest.

Mayor Aftab Pureval addresses the crowd at the swearing-in ceremony in Washington Park in January 2022. (Provided: CitiCable)

“I doubt my father could have imagined a day like today. But he moved his young family here because he was chasing a dream. And he was right, ”added Pureval. “Of course he was right, because Cincinnati is where I made my dream come true. (It) can be – it must be – a place where everyone can make theirs come true. who have felt the benefits of Cincinnati’s greatness in moving it forward and being good stewards of our exercise of self-government.

The message resonated with Bryan Wright, executive director of Cincinnati Compass. The organization works to advance the economic and cultural inclusion of immigrants and refugees, and was founded as a collaboration between the City of Cincinnati, the University of Cincinnati and more than 65 other community partners.

“As a child of refugees who grew up in Ohio to become mayor of Cincinnati, (Pureval’s) journey demonstrates the power and necessity of welcoming immigrants and refugees to the Cincinnati area,” said Wright.

“We look forward to working with Mayor Pureval and this administration to ensure that all immigrants and refugees coming to the Cincinnati area feel a sense of belonging and have the opportunity to continue to enhance the cultural vibrancy and economic growth of the region. Cincinnati area, ”he said. .

During the election campaign, Pureval spoke often about the importance of developing policies that emphasize racial equity. He pledged to work to create more opportunities for those who have traditionally been denied opportunities or been disenfranchised.

These sentiments were shared by several members of the new leadership team, including council member Jan-Michele Lemon Kearney, the city’s new vice mayor.

“My vision is for Cincinnati to be the story of one city, not two cities,” said Lemon Kearney. Referring to the major disparities in life expectancy rates between neighborhoods in Cincinnati, she added, “It’s a matter of fairness. It means that a zip code doesn’t determine our opportunities or our lifespan.

Jan-Michele Lemon Kearney, a member of the Cincinnati <a class=City Council, is sworn in in January 2022 in Washington Park. (Provided: CitiCable)” class=”hashed-image image” img-data-alignment=”left” img-data-width=”percent-fifty” img-data-caption=”Cincinnati City Council Member Jan-Michele Lemon Kearney takes the oath of office in January 2022 at Washington Park. (Provided: CitiCable)” img-data-wrap-text=”true” img-data-editing=”true”/>

Jan-Michele Lemon Kearney, a member of the Cincinnati City Council, is sworn in in January 2022 in Washington Park. (Provided: CitiCable)

Katie Eagan, vice president of government affairs for the Cincinnati Regional Chamber of Commerce in the United States, called the inauguration “an exciting day” and “a new era” for the city. The chamber has already had positive conversations with Pureval, its transition team and members of city council, she said.

“We are energized by their enthusiasm to get down to work to bring about equitable growth,” added Eagan. “The Chamber looks forward to partnering with the City Council and Administration to advance the business interests of our members and make Cincinnati a place of economic opportunity for all.

The Urban League of Greater Southwestern Ohio is going through a transition of its own. At the end of December, Urban League chief executive Eddie Koen announced he would step down on January 14 to take a position with a national non-profit organization.

Over the past two years, the league has worked to help thousands of people get financial aid related to COVID, fought for social justice and racial equity, and helped people find new business opportunities. .

Koen also speaks to the city’s newly elected leaders and is encouraged by their “vision for a prosperous Cincinnati.”

“This new group represents an opportunity to transform Cincinnati, build on the great initiatives of the past and boldly adopt new policies and initiatives,” said Koen. “We look forward to being a partner with the mayor and city council, both in action and in responsibility, to promote a more equitable Cincinnati.”

Kevin Finn, president and CEO of Strategies to End Homelessness, said the lack of affordable housing is the most pressing problem facing Cincinnati and other communities across the country.

Housing is considered affordable if it does not cost more than 30% of a family’s monthly income.

In 2017, the Community Building Institute at Xavier University released a report that found Hamilton County lacked more than 40,000 affordable housing units for households with incomes equal to or less than 30% of the square footage. median income, or roughly the minimum wage. About 28,000 of them were in the city of Cincinnati, according to the organization Cincinnati Action for Current Housing.

The group led the charge for Number 3, a failed charter amendment last spring that would have required the city to allocate at least $ 50 million a year on affordable housing. But voters overwhelmingly rejected the issue, with 73% voting against.

Although these affordable housing statistics are now a few years old, Finn said the fight remains urgent.

Finn said he was “very encouraged that many of the new council members and the new mayor are expressing a desire to tackle affordable housing issues.”

Council member Liz Keating takes the oath while holding her child in Washington Park.  (Provided: CitiCable)

Council member Liz Keating takes the oath while holding her child in Washington Park. (Provided: CitiCable)

Mike Moroski, executive director of the Human Services Chamber of Hamilton County, said there was enthusiasm for the city’s new leadership.

“We are confident that we will be able to do a very good job on behalf of those we serve with these new leaders,” he said. “Our priorities for 2022 are affordable housing, workforce issues related to our sector and increased local funding for social services.”

ArtsWave funds more than 150 cultural projects and organizations each year. They are currently partnering with the City of Cincinnati on a grant that will support the creation of original artwork that will wrap the exterior of a Cincinnati Bell Connector streetcar.

The continued uncertainty surrounding the pandemic has affected artists and arts organizations perhaps more than any other local industry, according to Alecia Kintner, CEO and President of ArtsWave.

“Recent help from the local government, working with ArtsWave, has been essential in maintaining the cultural treasures that make Cincinnati vibrant and unique,” ​​said Kintner. She hopes to work with city leaders to “ensure that investing in the arts is a central strategy in bringing our diverse community together and increasing opportunities for all.”

Some are more cautious about the expectations of this new City Council. This includes Joshua Burton, a Republican political consultant at RedHouse Strategies.

“With a new board and a new mayor, Cincinnati needs adults in the room who are ready to solve problems and make tough choices, not just score political points,” said Burton, who lives near. ‘Eden Park.

City Hall has been plagued with scandals in recent years, Burton said, and Cincinnati needs a board committed to focusing on local issues and “not the board member’s aspirations for political office. higher”.

Local Republicans have frequently criticized Democratic officials for seeing city council as a stepping stone to senior positions in Columbus or Washington, DC

Just hours after being sworn in to begin his second term on city council, Democrat Greg Landsman announced he would run against longtime incumbent Steve Chabot, a Republican, for the first Congressional District seat of Ohio.

“This board will need to learn to use community-based solutions, not ‘one-size-fits-all’ solutions,” said Burton. “The council’s goal should be to balance the budget with the challenges facing the 52 unique neighborhoods, (such as) improving our transportation, ensuring pedestrian safety, ensuring our neighbors are safe and thriving. all of them, not just on the Rhine and the city center. “

“My hope is that national policy does not turn into meaningless resolutions, but produce successful legislation that has a positive impact on every citizen,” he added.

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