CINCINNATI — Aftab Pureval was sworn in as the new mayor of Cincinnati Tuesday.
“I stand here today with a clear purpose to move us forward,” said Pureval. “It has been one grueling year after another grueling year, but now is a moment in our history where our incredible potential can be unlocked. It’ll be the honor of my life as your mayor to do my part in unlocking it.”
Pureval defeated David Mann during the November general election, winning 66 percent of votes.
Victoria Parks, Scotty Johnson, Greg Lansman, Mark Jefferys, Meeka Owens, Reggie Harris, Liz Keating and Jeff Cramerding were all sworn in as council members. Jan-Michele Kearney was sworn in as Vice Mayor.
“Even if you didn’t vote for us, know that we are here working hard for you. Working hard for all of you,” said Kearney.
The inauguration, which is traditionally held at Music Hall, was moved outdoors to Washington Park amid a surge of new COVID-19 cases. The pandemic, which has dominated public policy over the last two years, will be a key issue the new city leadership will deal with during the start of its term.
“Over the course of COVID we’ve been on this roller coaster, so people are looking for stability,” said council member Reggie Harris. “(To provide stability we need to make) sure that we have access to testing, that people feel safe, that we’re supporting our health care workers and that we’re also thinking about the economic recovery.”
“Obviously the omicron variant has skyrocketed the number of COVID cases and I’ll be in collaboration working with our health department to assess every day,” said Mayor Pureval.
Pureval said he won’t rule out a citywide mask mandate, or reimplementing any previous COVID protocols.
“I am open to whatever the public health experts tell me are the best practices,” he said.
As far as economic recovery post-pandemic, he said, the first step is to actually get through the pandemic.
“There’s no doubt the pandemic has required our economy to be running-in-place, unfortunately. The best possible chance we have to get past this pandemic is getting vaccinated, getting boosted, wearing masks, maintaining social distances so people can continue to feel comfortable patronizing businesses in-person,” said Mayor Pureval.
Aside from COVID-19 response, council members highlighted equity, affordable housing and pedestrian safety as focus areas.
“Let’s all participate and take advantage of the bounty Cincinnati has to offer,” said Kearney. “Let’s open up our neighborhoods so we can increase home ownership… Let’s show (our kids) that it’s here in Cincinnati that they can pick up a paycheck instead of picking up a gun.”
Council member Scotty Johnson said he’ll take a three-pronged approach to leadership, focusing on honesty, integrity and respect.
“We will move the needle when it comes to housing, we will move the needle when it comes to disparity,” he said. “And we will move the needle when it comes to a just Cincinnati. To make sure everybody is respected and that everybody has a seat at the table.”
The new City Council meets for the first time Wednesday at 2 p.m. On the agenda is approving a severance package for outgoing city manager Paula Boggs Muething.