Politics Extra
Enquirer reporters give the scoop on what your politicians are doing

Jessica Brown,
Hamilton County reporter

Jon Craig,
Enquirer statehouse bureau

Jane Prendergast,
Cincinnati City Hall reporter

Malia Rulon,
Enquirer Washington bureau

Carl Weiser,
Blog editor

Howard Wilkinson,
politics reporter

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Friday, November 11, 2005

Mailbag: 'Everyone wins with this election'

A close election -- like the 2000 and 2004 presidential contests -- usually means that the electorate is deeply divided into two ideological camps.

But Tuesday's election for Cincinnati mayor -- in which Mark Mallory beat David Pepper by 2,536 votes -- was close in another way. Many voters seemed to go to the polls perfectly happy to see either man win. As it turned out, 51.8 percent of them were happier for Mallory.

Lori Dawson of Bond Hill said she agrees with many of the voters interviewed on Election Day who said the city couldn't lose either way. She writes:
It wasn't a matter of voting against the other. And everyone wins with this election. David Pepper had my full support throughout his council term. I feel he has a good handle on what the people want and need. He is an upcoming political figure to deal with.

A lot of the black community discount him because of who his father is. I don't know his father. Why would I discount David because his father is a big figure at P&G? So what. Congratulations to the Pepper family for raising successful children. Let's look at David for what he has worked for. Politics isn't a birthright! David has shown the people that. He worked hard for his position. He worked hard for the people. It just so happens that he went up against another prominent political figure. Mark Mallory has been in the political arena for a lot longer than Pepper. He has already earned the respect and backing of the people. The people know who Mark Mallory is. They know his family. And no matter what some people may say, the Mallory family has served the people of Cincinnati and the state of Ohio for a very long time. Mark Mallory has a proven track record of success and becoming mayor of Cincinnati will only increase his political awareness for and therefore should better our city.

We, the people of Cincinnati and greatly hoping that our new mayor will revitalize our city and bring a new light to the nation that Cincinnati, Ohio is back! We can hold our heads up again when we go traveling around the nation and be proud again.

I'm seriously looking forward to a brighter future under the new leadership of Mark Mallory and City Council.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Overheard at Cincinnati City Council

Councilmen (from left) Chris Monzel, David Crowley, David Pepper and Jim Tarbell discuss Tuesday's election. Members of Cincinnati City Council gathered for their regular meeting the day after the election that saw expansive change sweep through city administration with the election of a new mayor and several council members turned out by voters. (Photo by Michael E. Keating/The Cincinnati Enquirer)

There's never much legislating that goes on the day after an election, mostly because City Council's committees take the week off. But it's always fun to eavesdrop as council members do a little gloating, a little consoling and a little joking around....
  • "How did you like anchoring the news? Was it fun?" -- Councilman David Pepper, asking Mayor Charlie Luken for career advice. ("I didn't like the hours," was Luken's response.)

  • "If there's a criticism of you that's not valid, it's that you're dangling a silver spoon. You're a very hard worker." Councilman David Crowley, to Pepper.

  • "I have the heart of a champion, and as Arnold Schwarzenegger says, I will be back." -- Councilman Sam Malone.

  • "I've been up and down, and it's good to be up again." -- Councilman Chris Monzel.

  • "You rode your mother's coattails." -- Luken to John Cranley, who got 4,113 fewer votes in the city than Susan Cranley did in her first run for Cincinnati Board of Education.

A better way to report City Council results

The way the Hamilton County Board of Elections reports results for Cincinnati City Council can be confusing. They take the votes for a particular candidate and divide it by all of the votes received by all of the council candidates. Top voter-getter John Cranley, therefore, got just 7 percent of the vote.

A more useful number is the percentage of voters who marked one of their nine votes for a particular candidate. (Keep in mind that the average voter voted for only six candidates.)

That's how candidates look at it. Before they begin, campaigns know they have to get about third of city voters to give them one of their nine votes. Only a few select politicians -- Charlie Luken, Roxanne Qualls and David Pepper -- have ever been able to crack 50 percent in a field race.

Here are the results for each candidate, with the percentage of ballots they appeared on:


John Cranley34,89947.6%

Jim Tarbell31,80943.4%

Leslie Ghiz29,25139.9%

David C. Crowley29,22239.9%

Laketa Cole29,15139.8%

Jeff Berding27,83238.0%

Chris Monzel27,46437.5%

Chris Bortz26,86536.7%

Cecil Thomas26,50736.2%

Sam Malone25,22234.4%

Christopher Smitherman24,02832.8%

Damon Lynch III21,91829.9%

Wendell Young21,07028.8%

Eve Bolton19,32426.4%

John Eby16,07421.9%

Samantha Herd13,93719.0%

Nick Spencer9,27412.7%

Paul Mcghee5,2717.2%

Gerry Kraus4,6286.3%

William S. Mathews II3,8325.2%

Robert J. Wilking3,6895.0%

Ishaq Nadir3,0874.2%

Eric Wilson2,9824.1%

Michael Earl Patton2,7083.7%

Curtis Wells2,3923.3%

Robert Wilson2,2593.1%

Ronnie Stallworth2,1753.0%

Bill Barron1,7852.4%

Bennie Green1,7412.4%

Victor Phillips1,6382.2%

Antonio Hodge1,2181.7%

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Cincinnati elects first black mayor (since Tillery)

The story of Tuesday's election in Cincinnati -- to the outside world, at least -- got portrayed as if the election of an African-American mayor was unheard of in the Queen City.
CINCINNATI (AP) - Four years after riots tore this city apart, Cincinnati voters elected a black mayor for the first time.

State Sen. Mark Mallory defeated Councilman David Pepper, both Democrats, in a nonpartisan mayoral runoff Tuesday to lead Ohio's third-largest city.

Rioting broke out in 2001 after an unarmed black man was shot and killed by a white police officer trying to make an arrest. While racial tensions have calmed, crime, safety and revitalizing downtown remain leading issues.
That led to headlines like "City Elects First Black Mayor" in Yahoo! News and the Seattle Post Intelligencer.

True, Cincinnati was slow to embrace a black mayor -- even changing its system of electing council members in 1957 in order to thwart Ted Berry's ascent to the mayor's office for another 15 years.

And it's true that Berry, who finally became the city's first black mayor in 1972, and Ken Blackwell, selected as mayor in 1979, were elected as council president-mayor by their peers on City Council, not by voters.

But you can't say that Dwight Tillery (right), who was the top vote-getter in 1991, wasn't popularly elected as mayor. That was the whole point of the 1987 charter amendment that gave voters more of a voice of who the mayor was.

The system changed again in 2001, to remove the mayor from the council field entirely and have him directly elected on a ballot for mayor. Mark Mallory is the first African-American mayor under that four-year-old system.

That is, unless voters approve an executive mayor system and elect someone else as the first black, directly elected, executive mayor in the city's history.

Pepper lost in Madisonville and Oakley

A ward-by-ward analysis of Tuesday's election returns shows that state Sen. Mark Mallory expanded his base since the Sept. 13 primary, winning four wards that went for David Pepper just seven weeks ago.

They are Ward 2 (Madisonville/Oakley), Ward 6 (Mount Auburn/Mount Adams), Ward 8 (downtown) and Ward 21 (South Fairmount).

A side-by-side comparison with the primary results isn't exactly apples-to-apples, given the seven candidates and lower turnout, and the reasons for Pepper's loss are undoubtedly much broader than a few neighborhoods.

Pepper would have needed to win those four wards with 62 percent in order to come up with the 2,537 votes he needed to win.

Even in loss, Smitherman retreats to his base

One of the biggest bursts of applause to erupt from the Board of Elections last night came not for a winner, but for a loser.

Christopher Smitherman walked past the print reporters and television cameras to the corner of the board room, where African-American-oriented radio station WDBZ had set up shop.

"We are definitely going to continue to be a voice in the city," Smitherman promised the radio audience, though he gave no specific future plans.

"I'd like to keep this about Sen. Mark Mallory," he said. The financial planner from North Avondale said contributors to David Pepper's $1 million campaign for mayor should have hedged their investments.

"Now today, those people are going to have to call Sen. Mark Mallory and readjust their game plan."

Pepper offers Mallory his big plan

David Pepper called Mark Mallory to congratulate him.

But he couldn't help getting in one more plug for his exhaustive plan to improve the city. Jokingly, he offered it to Mallory in case he'd like to use it.

-- Jane Prendergast

Police voice applauds change on Council

Keith Fangman, vice president of the Fraternal Order of Police, was happy with the council race results.

"On behalf of our police officers, this is great news for law enforcement and the city as a whole,'' he said late Tuesday night. "Having Christopher Smitherman removed from City Council is an early Christmas present for our officers. The nine that have been elected, we believe, will work well together with law enforcement. And the entire city will benefit from an improved relationship between the police and City Hall.''

-- Jane Prendergast

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Pepper's police, fire supporters consider future

Keith Fangman, vice president and spokesman for the Fraternal Order of Police, which endorsed David Pepper: "Although we are concerned with (Mark) Mallory's opposition to building a new jail and his belief that we do not need more Cincinnati police officers and his opposition to Tasers, we are hopeful that he will at least reach out to our police officers in the belief that we can have a productive relationship with Mayor Mallory.''

Joe Diebold,
president of the Cincinnati Fire Fighters Local 48, which also endorsed Pepper, said: "David's a friend of ours. We've worked with him for the past four years. He has supported firefighter issues. He would've been good for this city, and that's why we endorsed him.''

As his party wound down, Pepper continued to speak with reporters about the loss. He said he and his supporters would look at individual ward and precinct results Wednesday to see what sent the election Mallory's way.

"That's something for the pundits to figure out,'' he said. "As I look back, I wouldn't have done anything differently. We had a great team, we had a great strategy.''

-- Jane Prendergast

Pepper concedes

At 10:30, David Pepper supporters watched Mark Mallory's victory speech. Just as the speech ended, Pepper came down to the party to speak to them.

With him were his family, former 6th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Nathaniel Jones, for whom Pepper was a law clerk, and his girlfriend, former Channel 9 reporter Andrea Canning.

Jones introduced Pepper to the crowd, who clapped and cheered despite the loss. He quoted Adlai Stevenson, who once said losing hurt too much to laugh but was too big to cry.

"So we're all too big to cry,'' Jones said. "David ran a wonderful campaign. Your support was unfailing and consistent.''

"David, I want to say to you that I've never been prouder of you in my life than I am at this moment.''

He asked that the crowd "embrace him with a round of applause.'' Everyone did.

Pepper thanked them.

"Unfortunately, the only remarks I had were victory remarks,'' he said. "We didn't write a speech for losing, so unfortunately, I"m going to have to wing it.''

He congratulated Mallory and said the city has needed a "real mayor's race for a long time.''

Mallory "obviously brought passion to this race.''

He hadn't called his opponent yet, but said he would as soon as he finished the speech.

"I just want to be really positive here,'' Pepper said.

Pepper said he will continue to "be cheering very loudly for this city as a citizen.''

He said he might even have a plan he'd like to offer to all of them, poking fun at himself for the book-size plan he wrote for the unsuccessful campaign.

"This race has been a whole lot of fun,'' he said. "And it's been reaffirming as to what a wonderful, wonderful city we have.''

He said the election provides the City Council with an opportunity to turn the city in a new direction. And he thanked the crowd of supporters in front of him as well as the family that stood behind him on the stage.

He thanked Jones for being "a wonderful mentor.'' He said he was privileged to have the endorsement of the city's hard-working firefighters and police officers. He said he hoped to see council candidate Wendell Young try running again and thanked Council winners Leslie Ghiz and Cecil Thomas for endorsing him.

"I think they're good people,'' he said of City Council members. "And with the right leadership...I think they can be a great team.''

He thanked his campaign and office staffs, down to his interns. The young ones are so great, he said, "because they're optimistic about politics. What they brought to this table was...the belief that politics can do great things.''

He described Canning "as unbelievably supportive and patient'' to put up with his political work.

He thanked his parents, John and Francie, because "their example of giving back has inspired me my whole life. Obviously, I"ll continue to follow that path however I choose to do it.''

-- Jane Prendergast

City split on Issues 8 & 9

Issue 9, a Cincinnati charter amendment that would have rolled back the city's share of the property tax, was soundly defeated by Cincinnati voters Tuesday

With 95 percent of the city's 367 precincts reporting, the "no'' vote was 60 percent.

Issue 8, a second charter amendment on Tuesday's ballot, was passing with 66 percent of the vote.

That ballot issue will require Cincinnati City Council to vote on pay raises that are approved by the Ohio General Assembly. There was no organized opposition to Issue 8.

But Cincinnati's outgoing mayor, Charlie Luken, campaigned hard against Issue 9, saying it would cost city coffers $29 million a year without any mechanism to replace the revenue.

State Rep. Tom Brinkman, R-Mt. Lookout, was the architect of Issue 9, which failed by a smaller margin two years ago.

Tuesday night, Brinkman said city voters "listened to the scare tactics that were coming from City Hall.''

Brinkman said he did not anticipate putting the issue on the ballot again, saying the new council elected Tuesday "might be more inclined to do this on their own.''

-- Howard Wilkinson

Race narrowing, flipping...

With 94 percent of the vote in:

MARK MALLORY . . . . . . . . . 34,200 votes, 51.3 percent

DAVID PEPPER . . . . . . . . . 32,487 votes, 48.7 percent

Mallory inspires student to run for president

A diverse crowd continues to mingle and have fun at Mark Mallory's election party inside the Millennium Hotel. Supporters range from shaggy young hipsters in T-shirts and blue jeans to old judges in blue three-piece suits.

There was also a great diversity in ages. One of the youngest supporters was Ray Cook III, an 11-year-old Sands Montessori student. Ray said he helped put up signs and spent some time at Mallory's campign headquarters. It was inspirational enough to help Ray decide to run for student council president at the school.

"I learned some, like hang up a lot of signs and keep it honest," he said.

-- Dan Klepal

Three quarters of the way there...

With 74 percent of the vote counted:

DAVID PEPPER . . . . . . . . . 27,738 votes, 52.5 percent
MARK MALLORY . . . . . . . 25,114 votes, 47.5 percent

Results at 64 percent of precincts in:

DAVID PEPPER . . . . . . . .25,091 votes, 54 percent
MARK MALLORY . . . . . 21,620 votes, 46 percent

Overheard at the Board of Elections

Even with a 3,400-vote lead, Pepper campaign manager Greg Landsman wasn't close to declaring victory.

"I'm a nervous wreck," he said, pestering the press table for the latest information about which precincts were coming in. "This is why candidates sit by themselves in a room."

Landsman is right to be concerned. Ward 7 -- the predominately African-American heavyweight that includes Bond Hill and Roselawn -- still doesn't have any precicnts reporting.

Mount Auburn voter wants mayor with vision

The city needs a mayor who can see the big picture in development and be able to craft a vision for the city.

That is what Pauline Van der Haer, principal developer for Dorian Developers in Mount Auburn, had in mind when she voted Tuesday and when she came by the Board of Election Tuesday night.

"I think (Senator Mark) Mallory has that vision,'' said Van der Haer, 45.

She thinks that vision has been lacking in city government on this side of the Ohio River. "Take a look across the river and see what Covington and Newport have done. Cincinnati has been left in the dust . Covington and Newport have shown they have the vision and they let the world know they were ready to do it. On this side of the river there is no vision, too much bureaucracy and too much politics to move forward in developing downtown and the neighborhoods.''

-- Allen Howard

Beyond the halfway point

With 57 percent of the vote:

DAVID PEPPER . . . . . . . . . 22,706 votes, 54 percent

MARK MALLORY . . . . . . . 19,253 votes, 46 percent

Mallory joins the party

Moments after a small crowd of Mark Mallory supporters inside the Millennium Hotel applauded after seeing on television that the state senator was leading David Pepper by six percentage points in the race for Cincinnati mayor, all 200 people in the High Spirits Lounge at Mallory's election party erupted as the candidate walked into the room.

Mallory wasn't even sure if he was winning or losing when he made his entrance, at about 9:10 p.m.

"Are we on top?" Mallory asked. "It's going to be a long night. The numbers will go back and forth as they come in. We'll just take them as they come. Is that a good deal?"

Everyone agreed it was.

Mallory said his timing was pure coincidence.

"I really didn't know what the numbers were when I came in," Mallory said. "So I'm excited."

Mallory said he chose the lounge on the 31st floor of the Millennium because the hotel was a retreat, of sorts, for his family while he was growing up. There's even a booth in his family's name in the downstairs bar.

"I spent so much time here growing up," Mallory said. "I was campaigning up until the polls closed. I was in Clifton until 7:30. We've gone street by street, block by block. You can only see so many television ads before people want to hear from the candidate. I think they see hope in my campaign that we can end the chaos at City Hall. People really want hope for the city, and they see that in my campaign."

Lisa Hyde-Hill was one of the Mallory supporters intently watching TV until her candidate walked in.

"You don't want to watch the results as they come in, but I can't help myself," she said. "I've seen the Mallory family support the entire city, not just one area where they're from. That's why I'm supporting him."

After fielding questions from the media for about 15 minutes, Mallory said he was off for more important business.

"Is that it? Can I eat now?" he asked.

-- Dan Klepal

At the halfway point

With 49 percent of the vote counted in the city, David Pepper led Mark Mallory 55 percent to 45 percent.

Meanwhile, at Pepper's party...

People kept asking John Pepper, the mayoral candidate's father: How do you feel?

Finally, by 9:30 p.m., with his son up at the moment over Mark Mallory, the former Procter & Gamble Co. chairman said: "How would you feel? Absolutely tense.''

Joining the crowd: Frank "Gunny'' Lee, leader of the local Guardian Angels chapters.

-- Jane Prendergast.

Mallory leading Pepper, 53 percent to 47 percent

With 24 percent of precincts counted in the city, Mark Mallory was leading David Pepper 53 percent to 47 percent.

Pepper camp plays waiting game

The party at the 20th Century Theater got quiet when Channel 9's Clyde Gray came on the big screen and said Pepper was losing 56 percent to 44 percent with 16 percent of the precincts reporting.

Pepper's father, John, and Mayor Charlie Luken's father, Tom, wondered which precincts the totals included, trying to deduce which parts of the city had been counted yet.

The elder Pepper, who hadn't had any dinner, ate about half of his Subway sandwich and skipped the Sun Chips someone brought him.

The place filled up by about 8:30 p.m., with supporters waiting for their candidate. Campaign spokeswoman Anne Sesler said not to expect Pepper until more results are in.

-- Jane Prendergast

Labor leader worried about city's future

After casting his vote Tuesday, Dan Radford, executive director of the Cincinnati AFL-CIO Labor Council, expressed deep concerns about the direction the city will go, even with a new mayor, maybe a new city manager, finance officer and possibly new Council members.

"The city has lots of problems; social, economic, financial and along with that an exodus of young people leaving the city,'' Radford said. "What we need are elected officials who can forge a coalition that will work together, not just internally, but with the coporate entity and just ordinary people. We need a city that can attract young people here and keep young people here. I question whether this new council has the experience or the knowledge to do that.''

-- Allen Howard

Student takes first vote seriously

Ema Williams, 18, of Kennedy Heights, voted for the first time Tuesday. She was also getting a lesson in her Public Issues class. She was part of a class taught by Craig Rush at Shroder High School. Rush said the class deals with local elections.

Williams admits that some of the issues were still hard to understand even after discussions in class. "I discussed the issues outside of class with other people. When I went into the voting booth, I thought seriously about what I was doing,'' Williams said.

But politics is not in her future. "I don't think I would ever run for office, but I would like to work in a campaign, for a candidate or for some issues. This helps you get in tune with what is going on around you.''

-- Allen Howard

High city turnout could be good for RON

It was apparent early Tuesday night that the Cincinnati mayor's race had inflated turnout in city precincts, while turnout in suburban Hamilton County precincts was more ho-hum.

And the fact that same thing was happening in four other Ohio cities was giving supporters of the Reform Ohio Now electoral reform ballot issues reason to believe they could pull it off

For example: By 4 p.m. Tuesday, turnout in Clifton's 15-K, was nearly 43 percent. In Anderson Township's Precinct T, turnout was only 22 percent at the same time of day.

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that the more liberal voters who would support election reform live in Clifton while more conservative voters who would oppose it live in places like Anderson Township.

"It was a deliberate strategy, putting this issue on the ballot at an election where there were mayoral elections in five major cities around the state,'' said David Little, the southwest Ohio coordinator for Reform Ohio Now. "This was no accident.''

The idea, Little said, was to maximize the vote in the more Democratic cities and hope that township trustee races and village council elections would not be enough to bring out the Republican suburban base.

"We knew what we were doing,'' Little said.

-- Howard Wilkinson

Mallory depending on personal touch

Cincinnati mayoral candidate Mark Mallory was outspent by his opponent David Pepper by about 3-to-1. But that doesn't have supporters gloomy at his election party. After all, brother William Mallory Jr. said, Mark wasn't on television at all before the primary election and managed to stay within 200 votes of Pepper.

"Grass roots and campaigning smartly," William Mallory said. "That's how you do it. Mark is the kind of guy that would personally drive someone to the polling booths if he had to, or coordinate that."

Campaign spokesman Jason Barron said the strategy today was to have an overwhelming presence on the streets.

"All along our strategy has been to contact as many voters as possible," Barron said. "The response today has been tremendous. We'd have people come in (to the campaign headquarters) and we'd send them back out. In and out. All day."

-- Dan Klepal

At last, judge at brother's side

One of the earliest-arriving guests at the Mark Mallory mayoral campaign party was his brother, Judge William Mallory Jr.

Judge Mallory said his position on the court precluded him from campaigning for his brother, but that he helped out by contributing to the campaign.

"I've got my own campaign to run," Judge Mallory said. "I've not spoken to him today. I thought I'd leave him alone and let him work."

The judge said he spent the morning in court before picking his son up from school and spending a quiet afternoon at home.

-- Dan Klepal

Absentee Shmabsentee

The absentee voter results that showed David Pepper with 57 percent of the vote got some people's attention early Tuesday night at the Hamilton County Board of Elections, but the chances of those results being an accurate predictor of what will happen once all the votes are counted is remote indeed.

Historically, absentee voters tend to be more Republican than the electorate at large. And, in this mayor's race, Republican voters have no candidate of their own - Republican Charlie Winburn finished third in the Sept. 13 mayoral primary - so their campaign money and, now, their absentee votes, have tended to go to Pepper, who is considered to be a centrist Democrat acceptable to the business community.

The best indication that the absentee results are somewhat skewed in favor of Republicans was the fact that Republican councilman Chris Monzel was running second. Most people in Cincinnati political circles, even in his own party, expect that if Monzel is to win the seat he was appointed to in January, he will end up running eighth or ninth.

-- Howard Wilkinson

Pepper's people gather early

At the David Pepper campaign party at the 20th Century Theater in Oakley, the bar was open before the polls closed. Campaign workers decorated the joint with red, white and blue bunting and table cloths, flags and, of course, "We're Pepper People!'' signs. Tiny white Christmas lights hang from the ceiling.

Waiting for the party to start, supporters of the candidate set up electricity for the four television stations already here. Then, they watched "Everybody Loves Raymond" and "Entertainment Tonight" on a big screen above the stage where they hope, later, to show more votes rolling in for their man than for opponent Mark Mallory.

On the menu later: spicy chicken wings, bruschetta, veggies and dip. On one table: a Hormel meat tray, advertised as "Great for a Party of 8.''

Among the first in the door: Pepper's girlfriend, former Channel 9 reporter Andrea Canning, who now works for ABC News in Washington, D.C. Soon after came Pepper's father, John, former chairman of Procter & Gamble, wearing a homemade sign: I'm David's Dad.

Derek Blassingame
, who first made a name for himself in Cincinnati as a young activist after the April 2001 riots - when he was just 14 - volunteered for Pepper because he said Cincinnati needs a plan and Pepper's got plenty.

"The biggest problem in Cincinnati is that we haven't had a road map,'' Blassingame said. "David Pepper is severely organized and I think that's what Cincinnati needs.''

-- Jane Prendergast

Barron at the Board

The Rev Bill Barron, a candidate for Cincinnati City Council, spent the early part of the evening passing out literature in front of the Hamilton County Board of Elections - which is also a polling place - for himself and the candidates he said he liked.

"If I don't get elected I would like to see these candidates make it,'' Barron said.

His list included Christopher Smitherman, Gerry Kraus and Damon Lynch III for city council, plus a slate of judicial and school board candidates.

-- Allen Howard

A test for POWR PAC

Tonight, we will see just how much power POWR PAC has.

This is the first mayoral and council election for POWR PAC - Partnership ofWest Side Residents Political Action Committee - and the coalition of West Side neighborhood leaders has spent about $20,000 to push David Pepper's mayoral campaign and the campaigns of six city council candidates they hope will be elected and pay particular attention to West Side concerns like crime and neighborhood blight.

Thousands of households in Westwood, Price Hill, East Price Hill, Riverside and other West Side neighborhoods recently received flyers in the mail asking them to go to the polls Tuesday and support not only Pepper, but the POWR PAC council slate - incumbents John Cranley and Chris Monzel and challengers John Eby, Leslie Ghiz, Jeff Berding and Cecil Thomas.

Late Thursday afternoon, Pete Witte, the Price Hill Civic Association president who came up with the idea for POWR PAC, was standing outside the polling place at St. Williams Church on E. 8th St. in Price Hill, talking to voters as they came in and out of the polls.

"The good news is that I've seen a lot of people walking in to vote carrying their POWR PAC mailers,'' said Witte. "That's real encouraging.''

POWR PAC is hoping to have an impact, too, on Issue 9, the Cincinnati ballot issue that would roll back property taxes. The last time it was on the ballot it failed, and backers of the issue believed it was because West Side voters failed to support it.

This time, the issue had POWR PAC backing. State Rep.Tom Brinkman, R-Mt. Lookout, the author of Issue 9, said he believes POWR PAC "is capable of turning that around this time.''

-- Howard Wilkinson

Small change

Curtis Mapp, 67, who describes himself as a conservative Republican, said the only change he expected Tuesday was the oil change on his car.

"Nobody is saying anything about truth, honesty and what is right for the family,'' Mapp said. "They are not giving us anything for the family to build on. I vote Republican because I feel more confident that they would try to do the right thing, even though there are a few bad apples.''

-- Allen Howard

Mallory in "High Spirits"

State Sen. Mark Mallory will be in high spirits tonight, whether he wins or loses his bid to become Cincinnati's next mayor.

Mallory's election party is in High Spirits Lounge, on the 31st floor of the Millennium Hotel downtown. The second level of the lounge, called Ventana d'Italia, will also be open to guests. And campaign spokesman Jason Barron said he expects to fill the place.

"We had 200 volunteers out on the streets," Barron said. "And we'll have the first directly elected African American mayor since the 1930s. So I think it will be a heckuva party."

A crew from the Ohio News Network is setting up in the lounge, along with the Steve Schmidt Trio, a three-piece jazz band.

The band has played many Mallory functions, from campaign events to the elder Mallory's 50th wedding anniversary party. And, yes, all three members of the band voted for Mallory today.

"Hey, the guy's paying me," Schmidt said.

Mallory himself planned to spend the next hour or so with family and supporters before joining his party at the Millennium Hotel downtown between 8:30 and 9 p.m.

About a dozen Mallory volunteers and supporters have trickled into the lounge so far, and the band is playing.

-- Dan Klepal

Peppers for dinner

City Councilman David Pepper planned to visit polling places until the very last minute.

He was in College Hill at 5 p.m., planning to be there until 6:30 p.m., then onto a final spot to be chosen by where the campaign thinks he might need one last boost.

Then he’ll head to a family dinner with his parents, brothers John and Doug and sister Susan – it’s the first time all the siblings will be together since last Thanksgiving, campaign spokeswoman Anne Sesler said.

Some Yale buddies and Pepper’s girlfriend, former Channel 9 reporter Andrea Canning (now working in Washington, D.C.) also came to town.

They’ll all wait for final results at their party location, the 20th Century Theater in Oakley.

-- Jane Prendergast

Early turnout numbers bode well for Mallory

Estimated turnout in Hamilton County was 27.2 percent heading into the heaviest voting hours of the day, according to a sampling of precincts by the Board of Elections.

In the city of Cincinnati, with its high-profile mayor's race, turnout was slightly higher at 29.8 percent.

Turnout was especially high -- almost 40 percent or more -- in North Avondale and Hartwell precincts that were strongholds for state Sen. Mark Mallory in the primary election. East Side precincts that voted heavily for David Pepper on Sept. 13 have turnouts of about 30 percent, though the highest-turnout precinct, Cincinnati 15-K in Clifton, went for Pepper in September.

Hamilton County elections officials had predicted a total 43 percent turnout going into the day. Warm weather and the absence of rain seems to be helping keep that number on track.

The full breakdown of sampled precincts:

Precinct Registered
4 p.m.
4 p.m.
CINCINNATI 1-W 520 158 30.4%
CINCINNATI 2-C 476 112 23.5%
CINCINNATI 4-K 621 202 32.5%
CINCINNATI 5-I 733 230 31.4%
CINCINNATI 5-S 651 221 33.9%
CINCINNATI 7-N 559 147 26.3%
CINCINNATI 13-N 643 256 39.8%
CINCINNATI 14-B 652 202 31.0%
CINCINNATI 15-K 552 237 42.9%
CINCINNATI 19-H 550 161 29.3%
CINCINNATI 23-D 635 189 29.8%
CINCINNATI 24-C 702 280 39.9%
CINCINNATI 25-J 527 143 27.1%
CINCINNATI 26-I 548 133 24.3%
CINCINNATI 26-O 806 64 7.9%
FOREST PARK J 487 87 17.9%
LOVELAND I 654 143 21.9%
MADEIRA E 604 147 24.3%
READING 1-B 604 73 12.1%
ANDERSON T 679 151 22.2%
GREEN BBB 491 163 33.2%
MIAMI TWP E 694 233 33.6%
SYMMES R 1054 198 18.8%
CITY TOTAL 9175 2735 29.8%
COUNTY TOTAL 14442 3930 27.2%

Hip Hop City

If the Hip-Hop Generation goes to the polls today, it will have its own slate of candidates to vote for.

At some polling places around the city, in addition to Democratic sample ballots and fliers for vaious candidates, some voters were handed a small slip of paper called the "2005 Cincinnati Hip-Hop Voter's Guide," which included recommended candidates for Cincinnati mayor, council, Hamilton County Municipal Court and the Cincinnati school board, along with advice and commentary on seven state and city ballot issues.

There was no disclaimer at the bottom of the Hip-Hop ballot saying who had paid for the political ad. There is a fledging nationwide organization called the National Hip-Hop Political Convention, which, on its web site, says it was formed to "funnel the political and cultural power of the Hip-Hop Generation into mainstream political activities.''

The Hip-Hop ballot being distributed Tuesday recommended Mark Mallory for mayor and five candidates for city council - incumbent Charterite Christopher Smitherman, Democrat incumbent Laketa Cole, and independents Curtis Wells and Ishaq Nadir.

Incumbents William Mallory Jr. and Cheryl Grant were endorsed for municipal court judgeships, as were challengers Fanon Rucker and Ted Berry Jr. The Hip-Hop school board candidates are Eileen Cooper Reed and Catherine Ingram.

The Hip-Hop answers to state issues 1 through 5 is "yes,'' as it is for Cincinnati ballot issue 8, which would require council to vote on its own pay increases. But the Hip-Hop ballot lists a big "Hell No!!!!'' on Issue 9, which would roll back the city's share of the property tax.

Phone calls pump the Mallory vote -- in Columbus

A story just moved on the Associated Press wire, from Ohio political correspondent John McCarthy, containing this little nugget in the 29th paragraph:
Campaigns volleyed prerecorded phone messages at voters the past few days, including California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger pumping up the redistricting issue and Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel promoting a Franklin County substance abuse treatment levy. In an apparent glitch, the campaign for Cincinnati mayoral candidate Mark Mallory sent prerecorded messages to Columbus voters.
The Mallory campaign disavowed any knowledge of the get-out-the-vote calls, which apparently started going out last night. Mallory spokesman Jason Barron said the only calls from the Mallory campaign used the voices of state Reps. Steve Driehaus and Bill Seitz (targeted at West Side voters) and former Ohio Senate President Stanley J. Aronoff (targeted to East Siders).

So who's responsible? The Associated Press staffer in Columbus who got the call said the disclaimer came from the Service Employees International Union, which has spent $161,267 on an independent campaign supporting Mallory.

"Apparently we did mistakenly make 15 to 20 of those calls to voters in the Columbus area," said SEIU spokeswoman Jennifer Farmer. She said the union was making phone calls in various parts of the state, and the messages got mixed up.

Mallory family rule: Dad votes first

State Sen. Mark Mallory (standing) helps his father, former Ohio House Majority Leader William L. Mallory Sr., sign the voter roll before they cast their votes this morning at Heberle School in the West End. (Photo by Meggan Booker/The Cincinnati Enquirer)

There's an Election Day tradition in state Sen. Mark Mallory's family. No one can remember when it started, or why -- or at least Mark's not telling.

"No one votes before dad," Mark said.

Dad, of course, is former Ohio House Majority Leader William L. Mallory Sr. And when Mark showed up early one year and his mom saw later that he had already signed the poll book, Mark was in trouble.

Luckily for Mark, dad voted early this year. They both went to the polls at 7 a.m., with Mark waiting patiently until his father's vote was securely in the ballot box. Then Mark started his whirlwind Election Day tour of Cincinnati polling places.

"We're getting a good reception everywhere we go," said campaign spokesman Jason Barron from his cell phone as the senator's entourage stopped to eat at the Hyde Park Tavern. "We're upbeat."

Turnout slightly higher in city precincts

Sampled precincts with an above-average turnout are in blue; those with lower turnout are in red.

Turnout in Hamilton County was an estimated 14.6 percent as of 11 a.m. this morning, according to a representative sampling of precincts by election officials. Elections officials were predicting a 43 percent turnout county-wide by the end of the day.

With a race for Cincinnati mayor leading the ballot, numbers in the city were slightly higher. About 16 percent of voters in sampled precincts in the city had voted by 11 a.m.

The highest turnout reported was in Cincinnati 15-K, which votes at St. John's Unitarian Church in Clifton. There, 23.4 percent of registered voters had already cast a ballot at 11 a.m.

Lowest was Cincinnati 26-O, which votes at the Fay Community Center at the Fay Apartments. Only 4 percent of voters there had shown up.

Pepper votes, eats oatmeal

Councilman David Pepper checks his ballot for hanging chads before casting his vote this morning at Playhouse in the Park in Mount Adams. (Photo by Gary Landers/The Cincinnati Enquirer)

Mayoral candidate David Pepper began the day voting for himself at Playhouse in the Park, the polling place for Mount Adams precinct 8-C.

Cincinnati firefighters union president Joe Diebold and some of his union mates were there to greet their endorsed candidate when he arrived about 9:40 a.m. Tuesday. The firefighters, all wearing Pepper T-shirts, were asked by a poll worker to stay outside the flags at the polling place since their shirts could be construed as electioneering, which is not allowed within 100 feet of a polling place.

Charterite council candidate Chris Bortz had voted at the same precinct just 15 minutes before Pepper arrived. Bortz then drove over to the nearby Cincinnati Art Museum to relive his wife, Susie, who was greeting voters there, so she could go to the Playhouse and cast her vote.

Pepper was given the 47th ballot issued at the polling place and spent about five minutes punching his ballot card.

Before he dropped it in the box, as cameras of newspaper photographers and TV videographers whirred, he held it up to the light and examined the back of the punch card.

"No hanging chads,'' Pepper said, dropping it in the ballot box.

Outside the polling place, Pepper was asked what was next on his election day agenda.

"I'm going to Frisch's,'' said Pepper. "I haven't had my oatmeal today.''

Monday, November 07, 2005

Mark Mallory is not Courtis Fuller

State Sen. Mark Mallory campaigned today at a gas station in the West End, where he shook the hands of voters like Larry Richardson.

Larry Richardson was halfway in the door to the Sunoco station at Eighth and Linn streets this afternoon when he saw a familiar face out of the corner of his eye. He turned to state Sen. Mark Mallory and threw up his arms.

"Courtis Fuller!" he yelled.

Maybe he sensed the look of disappointment on Mallory's face, but Richardson recovered even before Mallory could correct him. "No, wait -- Mark Mallory!"

Fuller, of course, was Mayor Charlie Luken's Charterite opponent in 2001. And Mallory has tried hard to avoid becoming the Fuller of 2005. From the beginning, Mallory said that he would have to break through the typical pattern of Cincinnati racial-block voting to win votes in all parts of the city.

As he campaigned from Madisonville to Clifton Heights to the West End today, Mallory said he's confident he's done that.

"Everywhere we've been, we've gotten a good reception from people -- young, old, East Side, West Side, black, white, Democrat, Republican," he said. "People are really excited about the possibility of there being new leadership in the city. That's what I'm sensing -- that people see hope in this city."

Fuller had a similar message in 2001. Like Mallory, he was vastly outspent in challenging City Hall insiders, and was targeted in attack ads for associating himself with extreme voices in the African-American community.

But the differences outweigh the similarities.

Fuller got into the race just before the filing deadline, and by this point in 2001 had shaken up his campaign staff once or twice, had been outspent 5-to-1 and had not yet aired his one and only television commercial, an unconventional two-minute ad that ran on WCPO between "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" and "Monday Night Football." He also limited his appearances and television debates.

Mallory, the first candidate to declare, has been outspent only 3-to-1 (a margin he's overcome before), has debated opponent David Pepper 15 times and has a respectable television presence.

Richardson's gaffe aside, Mallory also has the benefit of a better political name with deep Cincinnati roots -- a name he inherited from his father, former Ohio House Majority Leader William L. Mallory Sr.

"I've known his father since I was in the fourth grade," said Richardson, 56, who grew up in the West End but who now lives in Clifton. "He's a sharp man -- from a good family."

Tarbell's campaign pays the rent

Charterite Councilman Jim Tarbell has raised $68,790 in his campaign for City Council -- and has paid himself $11,000 of that.

The expenditures, over the past two years, were for rent in the former Grammer's Restaurant Tarbell has owned in Over-the-Rhine since 1984, according to campaign finance reports. Though somewhat sporadic, the checks are for $1,000, and have come more or less monthly since May.

"It's the campaign headquarters. There are campaign workers over there right now," Tarbell said today. "If there's anyone who has spent less on their campaign headquarters, I'd like to know who it is."

Here's a partial list: Jeff Berding, $500 a month (West Price Hill); Eve Bolton, $300 to $600 a month (downtown); Chris Bortz, $200 a month (downtown); David Crowley, $600 a month (Walnut Hills); Leslie Ghiz, $4,200 paid in advance for six months in June (Westwood); Samantha Herd, $600 a month (Walnut Hills); Damon Lynch III, $500 (Bond Hill); Christopher Smitherman, $495 a month (North Avondale); Nick Spencer, $400 a month (Northside); and Cecil Thomas, $500 a month (Walnut Hills).

The only comparable rents were for mayoral campaigns: $2,000 a month for Alicia Reece, who rented a building owned by her father; $600 to $1,000 a month for David Pepper's headquarters in Walnut Hills; and $1,000 a month for Mark Mallory's headquarters in College Hill.

Council candidate John Cranley pays rent in two buildings, one of which is owned by a family partnership. Cranley has paid a total of $3,468 in rent to the downtown building he partially owns, and $250 for another building in Walnut Hills.

To be clear: there's nothing illegal about a candidate using campaign funds to reimburse themselves for legitimate expenses.

"Certainly there are basic concerns any time you have someone writing a check from their campaign account to themselves," said Elections Commission Director Philip C. Richter. "But you'd have to look at what all the factors are: What's the market value? Do they use a sufficient amount of the building to justify that payment?"

Tarbell has also had some problems with his bookeeping, making a $1,785 "reconciliation" to account for money spent by his campaign but not itemized over the last several years.

(Photo by Michael E. Keating/The Cincinnati Enquirer)

The new council majority

Monday, in the waning hours of the Cincinnati mayoral campaign, David Pepper and Mark Mallory showed once again that they have very different visions of what kind of city council they want to deal with as mayor.

Pepper has made it clear that there are certain candidates he wants to work with and others he can live without; Mallory seems more willing to take pot-luck when it comes to Tuesday's council election.

Early Monday afternoon, Pepper showed up at the Cincinnati Police substation on E. McMillan Street in Walnut Hills, the place where he held his first campaign event 10 months ago.

Flanking the mayoral candidate as he pledged to identify and root out "hot spots'' of crime in neighborhoods like Walnut Hills were six non-incumbent council candidates, most of whom had come out in favor of Pepper. There were three Democrats, Jeff Berding, Wendell Young and Cecil Thomas; two Republicans, Leslie Ghiz and John Eby; and one Charterite, Chris Bortz.

"I want Tuesday to be a turning point for this city,'' Pepper said, after praising the council candidates who are supporting him. "I want to be a mayor who works with a council on a common vision of moving this city forward.''

A hour later, Mallory stood in the parking lot of the Walgreen's at University Plaza in Corryville, greeting voters as they hustled in and out of the drug store.

Mallory asked a reporter following him around the parking lot if there were any council incumbents at Pepper's Walnut Hills event. He was told there weren't.

"See?'' said Mallory. "He wants to pick his own council. I'm willing to let the voters do that for themselves. I can work with anybody."

City Council also-rans could be in ethics trouble

For all the talk about the record-breaking list of 31 City Council candidates on Tuesday's ballot, there are a few candidates who seem to have put forth minimal effort to campaign.

Some have failed to even file even the minimum paperwork required of a candidate. As of Nov. 3, independents William Barron, Antonio Hodge, Ishaq Nadir and Victor Phillips had not yet filed financial disclosure statements with the Ohio Ethics Commission. They are due 30 days before the election, and are intended to give the public information about potential conflicts of interest.

If you want to know whether the commission takes these reports seriously, ask Charterite Nick Spencer, who briefly had a warrant issued for his arrest last year for failing to file in 2003. Spencer came clean and the charges were eventually dropped.

Pepper stumps at Price Hill Chili -- hold the chili

Councilman David Pepper lunches at Price Hill Chili today with (clockwise) high school friend William Paxton, Price Hill civic Club President Pete Witte and Yale Law School buddy Josh Galper.

What is there left to say about Price Hill Chili and West Side voters that hasn't become a cliche?

Here's one: an East Side candidate goes to PHC, shakes hands with a few voters, and orders a burger. (Not just any burger, but a modified Big Sam -- a double-decker with mushroom sauce.)

That's what Councilman David Pepper did this afternoon, after stopping by a few tables to talk to voters about changing City Hall, the Halloween night shooting in East Price Hill and (of course) an occasional "Who Dey?" After all, Price Hill Chili is the kind of neighborhood restaurant where it's considered rude not to stop by at other tables to discuss Elder football, parish politics, or who you ran into at Kroger's the other day.

As Pepper ate lunch with prominent Price Hill Republican Pete Witte, owner Sam Beltsos passed out flyers for Witte's POWR PAC -- telling customers, "Here is the ticket that's going to save Western Hills."

In the other room, Republican council candidates John Eby and Leslie Ghiz also ate sandwiches with campaign workers, as did Charterite Jim Tarbell later on.

But Eby -- who is to Price Hill Chili what Norm Peterson was to Cheers -- didn't do any campaigning at all. "I live here," he said.

Hey, Mr. Council Candidate, play a song for me

Of the many quirks of Cincinnati politics, here's one of the most perplexing: campaign jingles just won't die.

Maybe it's because radio is such an important part of Cincinnati's political culture, or because in a field race of 31 candidates, everybody needs a gimmick. Or maybe we're just 10 years behind. After all, political jingles fell out of favor everywhere else years ago.

Charterite Chris Bortz is not the only one with a jingle this year -- an R&B jingle now on the airwaves goes, "Vote for Cecil Thomas/He'll work for you, that's a promise." But for unadulterated banjo schtick, Cincinnati hasn't heard cornball like this since Gene Snyder's "He's Your Working Congressman."

Here are the lyrics, sung to the tune of an old folk song "No Hips at All:"
In Cincinnati there's something amiss,
The Queen City simply can'’t go on like this
We need some changes, ideas of all sorts
So come this November we are voting for Bortz

We are voting for Bortz
We are voting for Bortz
We like the platform of change he supports
We're voting for Bortz
We're voting for Bortz
Come this November we're voting for Bortz

We look at our council and what do we see,
Things are not what we would like them to be,
We checked out their record,
We read the reports,
So come this November we are voting for Bortz


When casting our ballots on Election Day,
We need folks on council who can lead the way,
Because we like what Chris he purports,
Come this November we are voting for Bortz

Here is is in .mp3 format, to annoy your co-workers.

Bortz said the credit -- or the blame -- goes exclusively to family friend Robert Dinerman, who wrote and performed the song.

"He came up with it on his own, as he is apt to do, and played it for us," Bortz said in an e-mail. "We all thought it was hilarious and even kind of catchy. We felt compelled to share it with the world. It has become a bit of a mantra among my campaign team -- 'We're voting for Bortz, we're voting for Bortz, we're voting for Bortz...' I'll only be concerned if it keeps up after the election."

Live, from City Hall, it's a stupid Galvin again

When the results come in Tuesday night and Cincinnati has a mayor-elect, you can expect that the local television stations will carry the winner's speech live at 11 p.m. But there's three-and-a-half hours of ballot-counting ups and downs before the broadcast stations jump in, and that's where the city-owned cable channel Citicable hopes to fill the gaps.

"This is for the hard-core political junkies," said Jerry Galvin, a longtime ad man and Democratic consultant, who will be anchoring Citicable coverage from deep in the bowels of City Hall. Galvin, half of the radio team of "Stupid Galvins" with brother Jene, will rely on a team of 15 Xavier University honors students to provide reporting and perspective from the Board of Elections. The students are part of a program taught by XU political science instructor Gene Beaupre, who will also bring more than three decades of Cincinnati political experience to the telecast.

Viewers in the City of Cincinnati, Greenhills, Forest Park and Springfield Township can watch the elections on Time Warner Cable channel 23. All other Hamilton County Communities can watch on channel 15.

The last day of campaigning

Here are today's schedules for the two Cincinnati mayoral candidates:

Mark Mallory
11:15 a.m. -- Madison Bowl, Madisonville.
12:30 p.m. -- Lunch: Frisch’s on Freeman Avenue.
2 p.m. -- Walgreen’s at University Plaza.
4 p.m. -- Sunoco, 8th and Linn, West End.
7 p.m. -- Honey on Hamilton Avenue in Northside.
David Pepper
11:45 a.m. -- Lunch: Price Hill Chili.
1 p.m. -– Safety First rally/Walnut Hills Police Substation.
5:30 p.m. -- Ludlow Avenue/Clifton Business District walk-through.
UPDATE (Monday, 5:11 p.m.): The Mallory campaign has cancelled his Northside appearance at Honey, which has a special wine-tasting event tonight. It may be rescheduled for Tuesday.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Lunken at issue in East Side group's endorsement

Among the many groups making endorsements in the mayor and council elections, there are groups that really only care about a single issue (like the Right-to-Life PAC) and groups that only care about certain neighborhoods (like the Partnership of Westside Residents, or POWR PAC).

The Lunken Neighborhood Coalition is both. The East Side neighborhood group was formed in 2000 to represent the neighborhood interests as City Hall developed plans to expand traffic at the municipal airport.

The LNC has endorsed David Pepper for mayor and three incumbents for City Council: John Cranley, David Crowley and Chris Monzel.

LNC Secretary Judy Zehren said in an e-mail to East Side residents the mayoral endorsement was unanimous:
David has been supportive throughout the four-year effort to bring the Lunken issues to resolution through a formal planning process involving the communities, users, and other stakeholders. Further, David indicates through his comments that he respects that process and the conclusions reached; namely that the airport be developed for the current users and not be expanded to facilitate commercial passenger service. Mr. Mallory, by contrast, speaks as though he understands that Lunken is an issue with the neighborhoods, but with words that demonstrate a total lack of respect and understanding for the progress to date in resolving those issues. Mr. Mallory says he is willing to take an unpopular stand and seek further development of what he calls an "under-utilized asset."
Mallory declined to discuss the issue Sunday, saying it wasn't an issue he could win politically. But he explained his position in a questionnaire published in the Linwood Lantern, a neighborhood newsletter:
Maybe the easiest thing for a candidate to do is to say what he thinks you want to hear. With Lunken Airport in (Linwood's) back yard, it might be easy to say I oppose all service expansion at Lunken. But I don't think that's in the city's best interests. It doesn't make sense to continue operating Lunken as we have been, especially with the city's budget so tight. What we'll have to do is find a way to balance the community's concerns with the economic potential of the airport.

Here is my commitment to you: Before any expansion is decided upon, there will be full, open, hearings in the communities that are most affected. I also pledge to do everything in my power to mitigate any potential negative impacts that a Lunken service expansion would have upon the neighborhood.

Weekend notes from the council campaign trail

Signs of the campaign season - literal signs and figurative signs - were to be seen in nearly every neighborhood of the city Saturday.

At 1 p.m. Saturday, Republican council candidate John Eby's van and Charterite incumbent Jim Tarbell's motor scooter were seen parked outside Price Hill Chili on Glenway Avenue. Both were inside grabbing lunch and greeting the lunch-time crowd. Incumbent Republican councilman Chris Monzel had worked the breakfast crowd at the restaurant earlier with U.S. Rep. Steve Chabot.

While Eby and Tarbell stumped for votes inside Price Hill Chili, a lone Monzel volunteer stood at the corner of Glenway and Ferguson Road, waving a sign at the passing traffic.

Two hours later, incumbent council member Christopher Smitherman stood alone on a Reading Road curb, just across from Losantiville Country Club, waving a Smitherman sign.

Both mayoral candidates and nearly all the 31 city council candidates made stops Saturday at a Northside event called "The Ultimate Political Party,'' the brainchild of Northside resident and neighborhood activist Heather Sturgill, who said she wanted to create an event "that would celebrate the act of voting.''

"You remember the old movies that showed campaign with big brass bands and parades and big crowds of people excited about democracy?'' Sturgill said sitting under the big white tent erected in a parking lot at the corner of Hamilton Avenue and Lingo Street. "I wanted to recreate that.''

From 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday, a steady stream of local bands - many of them including musicians who live in Northside - played psychedelic funk, Celtic tunes, reggae and rock for crowds inside the tent that varied throughout the day and night from small to large. In between the music, the candidates were invited to the stage to give four-minute speeches and answer questions.

-- Howard Wilkinson

'You don't say no to Pinkie'

Cincinnati City Council candidate Laketa Cole speaks at a campaign breakfast held at Greater New Hope Missionary Baptist Church in Avondale Saturday. (Photo by Brandi Stafford/The Cincinnati Enquirer)

Mayoral candidates Mark Mallory and David Pepper began their last Saturday before the election at the annual candidate breakfast in the basement of Avondale's Greater New Hope Missionary Baptist Church, as did nearly 20 council, school board and judicial candidates.

The Greater New Hope breakfast has taken place on the Saturday morning before election day for decades and is organized by Pinkie Williams of nearby Evanston, one of the matriarchs of the African-American church and a long-time political activist.

Church ladies served up heaping plates of scrambled eggs, buttery-flavored grits and spicy turkey sausage to the crowd of about 50 who showed up to listen to a stream of candidates giving three-minute speeches.

"This is one of those events you don't dare miss,'' Mallory said, sitting down dig into his breakfast plate before getting his chance to speak. "You don't say 'no' to Pinkie.''

Donald Jones, pastor of Greater New Hope, said his congregation is one that follows campaigns closely and goes to the polls.

"We believe the people of our church need to be informed and we make sure they are informed,'' Jones said. "And candidates should know that our people vote.''

Juanita Adams, a church member, put it succinctly. "If you want to get elected,'' Adams said, "you have to come through this church.''

While some in the crowd went back for seconds on breakfast, Williams stepped to the front and tried to quiet down the crowd so the speech-making could begin. Nearby, Pepper stood talking to some folks eating at one of the tables, and Williams shot him a mother-is-perturbed look.

"Da-vid,'' she said, glancing his way. Pepper put his hand over his mouth and sat down.

When it was his turn to speak, he talked about his hope that on Tuesday he will be elected along with a council majority that will be in sync with his plans for the city.

"I'm looking forward to Dec. 1,'' said Pepper, referring to the day when the new mayor and council will take office. "I think it's going to be a great day for Cincinnati. A turning point.''

Mallory asked the breakfast crowd if there was any who had yet to make up his or her mind in the mayor's race. Not a single hand was raised.

"Okay, thank you, I'll be going now,'' Mallory said, as the crowd laughed. "Just kidding. I guess I should say something.''

What he said was straight from his standard campaign stump speech - that he is the candidate with experience working with people of other political parties and points of views to solve problems, that he wants to be "the kind of mayor who wants to concentrate on the commonalities that we share and not the divisions.''

-- Howard Wilkinson

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