Front of Cincinnati City Hall. Photo by John Alexander Reese

Herald Staff

Six candidates have qualified with the Hamilton County Board of Elections for the May 4 Cincinnati mayoral primary, at which time the two top vote-getters will move on the November General Election. Each candidate was required to file 500 valid signatures from registered Cincinnati voters to get on the May primary ballot.

But the Board of Elections has indicated that Young, Prather, and Koehler fell short of the required 500 valid signatures. Therefore at this point they will not be on the May 4th mayoral primary ballot.

Mayor John Cranley, who has served two terms, is barred under Ohio’s term limit law from running for a third term.

The six candidates for Cincinnati mayor, listed in alphabetical order, are:

Scientist Gavi Begtrup, 37, of Mount Lookout. Democrat.

Cincinnati City Councilman David Mann, 81, of Clifton. Democrat.

Adjunct professor Herman Najoli, 44, of West Price Hill. Independent.

Retired Cincinnati firefighter Raffel Prophett, 61, of Avondale. Democrat.

Hamilton County Clerk of Courts Aftab Pureval, 38, of Clifton. Democrat.

State Senator Cecil Thomas, 68, of North Avondale. Democrat.

Suspended City Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld withdrew his name from the race.

The candidates (again in alphabetical order):

Gavi Begtrup is a physicist and entrepreneur, who is making his first run for elective office. 

“It’s time to end the culture of corruption at City Hall and replace it with a culture of collaboration. That’s how we create good jobs and build an economy that works for every family. Here in Cincinnati, people want responsive government, more support for our public schools and jobs you can raise a family on. People say they are ready for change.”

Gavi Begtrup. Photo provided

As Chief Technology Officer and later CEO of Eccrine Systems, Begtrup brought tens of millions of dollars in investment into Cincinnati, creating 50 jobs along the way. He has started two companies here: WaveTech (which developed new agricultural technology) and Eccrine Systems (which focused on medical diagnostics). He has worked with the Chamber of Commerce on regional economic development, as well as with Cincytech, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, and the University of Cincinnati on technology commercialization and startup formation. 

He helped found the Spencer Center, a magnet school in Walnut Hills. He also served on the Jewish Community Relations Council of Cincinnati, combatting anti-Semitism and rebuilding cooperation between the Jewish and African American communities. He worked as a policy advisor to US Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.

David Mann is a former mayor and congressman. After a political career that stretches back to the 1970s, Mann has the advantage of almost universal name recognition in the city. He is a Cincinnati lawyer.

“I have dedicated my life to Cincinnati and our country with over 30 years of public service as mayor, member of Congress, member of City Council and U.S. Navy officer,’’ Mann said. “I believe I have proven I believe in our citizens and am devoted to making our lives and neighborhoods better. I have worked to invest more resources for human services; expand support for affordable housing; improve engagement between the city and community councils; provide bodycams for police officers; require payments for affordable housing and neighborhood projects as a condition of tax abatement; and keep the city on a responsible financial path with balanced budgets as chair of the budget and finance committee.

David Mann Esq. City of Cincinnati photo

“My priorities include: stopping corruption.  I wrote the legislation creating the blue ribbon panel just appointed to review how business is done at City Hall.  It will recommend safeguards to minimize corruption by council members. We must address racial disparities in our community whether in health, employment, education, criminal justice, life expectancy, childhood poverty, infant mortality or any of the other measures that so dramatically confirm that we continue as a Tale of Two Cities—one Black and one White. Youth employment opportunities must be expanded and efforts to reach out and provide a path of hope to our youth. We must improve police-community relations.  As mayor, I willcreate a new office devoted exclusively to planning and carrying out post pandemic initiatives for our citizens and businesses.’’

Mann practices law with his son in Mann & Mann LLC, which represent employees who have been mistreated by their employers in violation of the Civil Rights laws. 

Herman Najoli is a native of Kenya, finished third in a three-candidate race for Hamilton County commissioner in November. He is an adjunct professor at Indiana Wesleyan University.  

“The 2021 race for Cincinnati mayor is the most consequential of our time,’’ Najoli said. “This is a battle for the character of our city. Our politicians seek careers in public service as they erode all elements of virtue through their faulty decision-making.

Herman Najoli. Photo provided

“My vision is to establish good government practices, address issues through better government policies, and champion principles that position us to be the best government. We can make Cincinnati a flourishing first class city in one term only. Let us make Cincinnati a shiny city where the vision, issues, and principles that we fight for form a platform of new possibility. As your one-term mayor, I will break the back of corruption and take this city over the top. I know what my objective is and what this era requires – virtue. I will put people over party, politics, profit, and pander. I will end the pain of corruption.

Aftab Pureval, who is Hamilton County Clerk of Courts he is running for the office of mayor “with an emphasis on leading an economic recovery from COVID and restoring the public’s trust in City Hall.” In 2018, he ran a spirited campaign for Ohio’s 1st Congressional District seat, but lost to Republican incumbent Steve Chabot.

Pureval said his campaign is focused on a recovery from COVID that grows our economy and benefits all Cincinnatians. Our campaign is about building a Cincinnati that works for every person and having a robust presence in every neighborhood.”

Aftab Pureval, Esq. Photo provided

Pureval is the first Democrat elected as the Hamilton County Clerk of Courts in over 100 years. In that position, he ended the officeʼs nepotism and cronyism; saved taxpayers millions of dollars and expanded services.

Previously, Pureval worked at Procter & Gamble. He earned his law degree at the University of Cincinnati. He has been awarded the NAACP Theodore Berry Award for Service.

Raffel Prophett is a retired Cincinnati Fire Department district chief and a retired Lt. Colonel in the U.S. Army Reserves.           

“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. 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.

Raffel Prophett. Photo provided

What is most important to my wife Sonya and I is that we provide the best opportunity for our daughters to become happy, vibrant, and productive human beings.  If my daughters decide to remain in Cincinnati, I want it to be the kind of city that they deserve.  At this moment, my daughters, and many other young people throughout Cincinnati are now motivated by the opportunity for real social justice.  As their parents and elders we must honor them by listening, and then institute real change.  

“COVID 19 and the killing of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and others have exposed health and social-economic inequities.  Fifty plus years ago, Avondale was the epicenter of unrest in Cincinnati.  Many of the inequities that caused the unrest persist.   Nevertheless, I am hopeful.  Black Lives Matter and the movement that emerged has provided us with a historical opportunity for meaningful change. “

As a 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. 

Cecil Thomas is a state senator from Ohio’s 9th Senate District, a former member of Cincinnati City Council and a former Cincinnati police officer. 

Cecil Thomas. Photo provided

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. Thomas’ family fled rural Alabama for Cincinnati when the Ku Klux Klan came to his house seeking to lynch his father.

“Cincinnati needs a steady, experienced hand to restore trust in our city government,” Thomas said. “I want to get the people feeling that we have a government that’s functioning even though there’s a lot of concern of how our government’s been functioning as of late.”

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