By Herald Staff
At this point, six candidates have announced they are running for Cincinnati mayor in the 2021 Cincinnati mayoral election on November 2, 2021. The election is officially nonpartisan, with the top two candidates from the primary election advancing to the general election, regardless of party. Incumbent Democratic Mayor John Cranley, first elected in 2013, is term-limited and cannot seek reelection to a third consecutive term.
The candidates, who are all Democrats, are listed in alphabetical order. They are David Mann, Esq., City Council member; Kelli Prather, community activist; Raffel Prophett, Cincinnati firefighter and community activist; P.G. Sittenfeld, suspended City Council member; Cecil Thomas, State Senator; and Wendell Young, City Council member.
Information about each of the six candidates, also in alphabetical order, follows:
David Mann Esq.
Longtime City Councilman and former Mayor David Mann was the first to announce he will run for mayor of Cincinnati in 20121. Mann, a Cincinnati lawyer, has twice served as the city’s mayor.
Mann said, “I have no ambition beyond Cincinnati, and I believe I have yet more to give this community. I promise proven leadership to move the city forward.
“Betsy and I have mulled over this possibility for some time, but our thinking came together rather quickly in recent weeks,” he wrote in the letter sent to the herald. “For a lot of reasons, including the human and economic costs of the coronavirus pandemic, i think my experience and leadership are particularly suited, maybe uniquely suited, to the challenges we face just now at City Hall and in the broader community.”
Mann, a Navy veteran, has served a total of 25 years on City Council – from 1974-92 and from 2013 to the present. Mann is head of the Budget and Finance Committee, after serving years as vice mayor. He was mayor from 1980-1982 and a single year in 1991.
In between his two Council stints, he was elected to Congress in 1992 and acted as representative for Ohio’s 1st Congressional District. He lost the seat in 1994 to Republican Rep. Steve Chabot.
Mann said that his long record of public service should function as proof of his political acuity and dedication to the city.
“I promise proven leadership to move the city forward, particularly as we navigate a post-pandemic world,” he said. “Our community deserves serious options to get us back on track. More than ever, we need a plan for economic growth, which includes benefits across our community. At every step, we must make sure our recovery touches as many neighborhoods and citizens as possible. I believe I can provide this needed leadership.”
He said that as mayor he would focus on increasing community services, affordable housing and the disparities in the community.
Mann graduated magna cum laude from Harvard Law School and currently practices law with his son at their firm, Mann & Mann.
Kelli Prather, MOT, OT/L
Prather, a community activist, announced she was a mayoral candidate in August.
“I am running for mayor because it is time to bring integrity back to City Hall, to restore confidence in the mayor’s office, to be a strong voice, to provide opportunities, as well as to encourage as many citizens as possible to engage in the democratic process as it relates to getting their needs me,” she said.
She added that the voter energy displayed during the 2020 General Election centered on bringing new leadership to all levels of government was invigorating. “Considering that I bring a different voice to the mayor’s race, i am certain that my candidacy will keep the momentum going,” she said.
“I decided to announce my candidacy prior to the 2020 election to remind voters that We The People have options. As mayor, my primary goal would be to provide diligent representation for all citizens. Our plans include collaboration with stakeholders and most importantly the citizens to create a city government that is transparent, open and fair across the board. I would bring the ability to relate to most citizens’ life experiences. I am running for mayor because it is time to bring integrity back to City Hall, to restore confidence in the mayor’s office, to be a strong voice, to provide opportunities, as well as, to encourage as many citizens as possible to engage in the democratic process as it relates to getting their needs met. I would demonstrate a new approach to operating city government that the citizens of Cincinnati will greatly appreciate,” Prather said.
Prophett, a Cincinnati firefighter and community activist, made his candidacy official in October. He said he is running because, “My adult life has been dedicated to public service. I was born, raised, and educated here in Cincinnati. My wife and I built our home here, so I have personal and vested interest in our city’s equity, well-being, success, sustainability and resilience. That is why I am ready to serve again.”
Prophett added, “As a 2021 mayoral candidate, I am saddened to hear that yet another of three of our trusted public elected officials on City Council have been indicted by the federal authorities,” he said.
“I have spent my entire adult life in public service. I have served at the highest levels of our city, state, and country with integrity. I choose to run not for political ambition, or selfish intent, but to serve again the city that I love.”
He said that as mayoral candidate, he pledges to be guided by the core values that were instilled in him from his military service, which are to “do what is right, what is just and what is fair.”
Sittenfeld says he remains a mayoral candidate following his recent announcement he has voluntarily agreed to temporarily step aside from his seat on City Council after being arrested by federal agents in November and indicted on honest services wire fraud, a charge that came from allegations he solicited money for campaign funds for votes from a local development. He has denied the charges, and says he will fight them.
In a video statement, Sittenfeld said he felt it was necessary for him to step down so he could “aggressively pursue clearing” his name.
Sittenfeld has been active while on council in getting a number of progressive issues passed that help the underserved in the city.
Sittenfeld announced his candidacy through a formal campaign event in July. “I’m running for mayor to help take Cincinnati’s ‘tale of two cities’ and work to make us one – to ensure that no matter who you are, what neighborhood you live in, or what circumstance you were born into, you have the opportunity to experience the best that Cincinnati has to offer,” he said.
Elected at age 27 in 2011, Sittenfeld is the youngest person to ever be elected to the City Council.
In January 2015, he announced his 2016 bid for Ohio’s U.S. Senate seat currently held by Republican Rob Portman. On March 15, 2016, Sittenfeld lost the Senate Democratic primary election to former Ohio Governor Ted Strickland. On July 12, 2020, Sittenfeld announced he would run in the 2021 Cincinnati mayoral election.
State Senator and former Cincinnati City Councilmember Cecil Thomas says the arrest of Sittenfeld, who was thought by many to be the front runner in the mayoral race, helped him make the decision to enter the mayoral race. He says if Sittenfeld is cleared of the corruption charges, he drop out of the race.
Thomas was elected in November 2014 to serve Ohio’s 9th Senate district. He served 27 years working with the Cincinnati Police Department. He served as Executive Director of the Cincinnati Human Relations Commission from 2000 to 2015 and then joined Cincinnati City Council before being elected to the Ohio Senate.
Cincinnati City Councilman Wendell Young is running for mayor in 2021. Young is a familiar face at City Hall and was a longtime Cincinnati Police Department officer. He was appointed to Cincinnati City Council in June of 2010, filling the vacancy left by Councilmember Laketa Cole.
A life-long resident of Cincinnati, Young grew up in Avondale, where he attended Cincinnati Public Schools, graduating from Hughes High School in 1963, according to his biography on the city’s website.
After graduation, he enlisted in the U.S. Air Force, serving until honorably discharged in January 1967. After returning home, he became a member of the Cincinnati Police Department, where he retired as a sergeant 20 years ago.
More recently, Young was one of the the five council members known as the “Gang of Five” after they were named in a 2018 lawsuit by an anti-tax activist.