Herald Online News
CINCINNATI – Cincinnati voters wanted it and on Tuesday they got it – Change.
On Tuesday, those witnessing the swearing in of the Mayor and City Council new style of leadership as our new government leaders arrived at the ceremony by bicycle. Change. The subtle word spoke volumes prior to the ceremony with change in leadership, change in tone, leadership style, location due to the ongoing pandemic and in the speeches given during the ceremony. Even the weather, although cold, warmed up nicely to add a nice touch to the ceremony held in Washington Park.
The hour and half ceremony began shortly after 11 a.m. with Aftab Pureval being sworn in as Mayor. Pureval is the first Asian-American to be sworn in as mayor of Cincinnati. After the ceremony, members of the Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio Tibetan Association showed up to thank and congratulate Pureval on this “historic moment.” They brought letters of support from the Dalai Lama and Penpa Tsering, a Tibetan politician. Pureval’s heritage is Indian and Tibetan.
Noting the weather, Pureval jokingly reminded people about former president William Henry Harrison speaking without a topcoat in the cold during his inauguration. Harrison died a month after being sworn in. Pureval said he had his topcoat on.
Although he started out joking about the weather, Pureval turned serious talking about his immigrant parents and his platform and the future he sees for Cincinnati. “I will serve you with a profound respect with the faith you put in me,” he said, assuring everyone that he will make them proud of him and will not waste the faith put in him.
His short speech also spoke of using an innovative approach to addressing the affordable housing issue in Cincinnati, environmental justice, and equity. Throughout his campaign Pureval talked about developing a business community that had an equitable approach and make sure that tax abatements used in the richer neighborhoods are also available in the poorer neighborhoods as well.
First of the council members to be sworn in was Jan-Michele Lemon Kearney. She was also sworn in as Vice Mayor. It is interesting to note that the council members also approved Kearney’s motion to name Victoria Parks President Pro Tem. That places two Black women in leadership positions with this new city government.
Councilmembers generally stayed within the 3-minute time limit. Kearney said her vision is “a tale of one city… a tale of equity for all” where zip code does not determine opportunities or life expectancy. She called on corporate boards to diversify, large developers to partner with smaller minority and women owned businesses, the expansion of apprenticeships and job skills training, encouraging neighborhoods to increase homeownership to reverse the effects of decades of redlining that prevented Black and Brown families from building generational wealth, and investing in and mentoring young people. “Show them that Cincinnati is a place where they can pick up a paycheck instead of a gun … a place where they can start and grow businesses … a place where they can realize their dreams.”
Many of the new Council Members vowed to do what is best for Cincinnati. Jeff Cramerding noted how well all of the council members get along. Others pledged to work with the new colleagues for the betterment of Cincinnati.
Scotty Johnson, a former Cincinnati Police Officer, whose father swore him in said his 86-year-old father was so quick that Scotty had to tell his father to repeat a part of the oath as he laughed. Johnson, who will be chairman of the Public Safety and Governance Committee, promised to make an impact on equity and affordable housing. He charged the audience to hold him and his fellow council members to the fire. He noted that City Council will move the needle on equity, affordable housing and making sure everyone has a seat at the table.