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Cincinnati City Council candidates find a packed field for nine open seats

Cincinnati City Council candidates find a packed field for nine open seats.png
Posted at 10:38 PM, Aug 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-20 07:19:49-04

CINCINNATI — The deadline for candidates to file to run for city council is up. Hamilton County’s Board of Elections said 43 people turned in packets by Thursday’s 4 p.m. deadline.

“That’s a lot,” Hamilton County Board of Elections director Sherry Poland said. “That’s up both in those that pulled petitions and with those that have filed. For example, in the last Cincinnati City Council race in 2017, there were only 23 candidates on the ballot.”

All the candidates’ signatures need to be certified by Sept. 7 in order to be added to the ballot, so the number could drop.

“I know just in my tenure here – I’ve been here about 17 years – that’s the most I’ve seen,” Poland said.

One local political expert said it’s one of the toughest races, not only for candidates, but voters, anywhere.

“This is city-wide, dozens of candidates and nine votes to cast,” University of Cincinnati political science professor David Niven said. “I really do believe this is one of the toughest votes for any American to cast.”

Every seat is up for reelection. Of all the candidates who filed, there’s only one incumbent, elected council member – Greg Landsman. Jan-Michelle Kearney, Liz Keating, Betsy Sundermann and Steve Goodin were all appointed following a resignation or a previous member being removed from their seat because of scandal.

“They don’t start from a position of legitimacy,” Niven said. “They can’t ask the voters to re-elect them.”

One obstacle most candidates will face, according to Niven, is getting their message or platform widely known.

“I’m not just selling myself, I’m selling myself against this field of dozens of people,” he said, outlining the challenges faced by having so many candidates running for so few spots. “I have to face the challenge of ‘How do I even get you to remember me?’”

Some major focuses of the race so far include crime, youth violence and education. Corruption is also expected to be in the front of many people’s minds.

“The scandals that plagued the city council can either inspire or depress,” Niven said. “And in this place, it seems to inspire some folks to put their name out. Who think, ‘I may not know everything about city government, but I know how to do this job honestly.”