City Council ballot update: The Return of the Queen and more

A change in Ohio state law made the filing deadline for most elected offices on this November’s ballot 90 days before the election, but not for some cities with different deadlines in their charter, which supersedes state law. Like Cincinnati.

The city’s cut-off remains 75 days prior to the election, on August 25, leaving lots of time for candidates still without enough of the 500 valid signatures or who haven’t paid their $75 filing fee or signed the acceptance letter to get their campaigns in order and, subsequently, their names on the ballot. So far, eight people have made the cut.

Councilman Bortz at an April meeting.

As of this afternoon, several incumbents and former candidates have yet to meet the filing requirements, with 10 days left to go. But, one former mayoral candidate, a woman who brought grimaces and grins to reporters and political watchers across Cincinnati, has not only met all the requirements to be on the City Council ballot this far, she was the second one to do so in early June.

Sandra Queen Noble, who fought for her apparently single-member “She-ro” political party (as opposed to “He-ro” or “Hero” party) got in her 500 valid signatures, paid her fee and signed her acceptance letter – all by June 7. That was just nearly a month behind fund-raising prodigy, first-time candidate and initially-named P.G. Sittenfeld, who got his paperwork done on May 11.

Incumbent Democrat Cecil Thomas, who, much to his own surprise, rode into office in 2005 on a shoestring campaign budget, spending a fraction of what many other non-winning and winning candidates did, finished his pre-election work on July 6.

Lawyer, professor and first-time candidate Yvette Simpson – best known lately in City Hall circles for having her first business forum of her campaign in Silverton (outside of city limits) and sending an email to City Hall staffers inviting them to it (a big no-no) – got her stuff in order on July 28.

Queen Noble, who was known for saying things that were, to put it nicely, a little off-kilter in her bid to become Cincinnati’s first female black mayor, should provide some much-needed levity in a city (and state and country) lately full of cantankerous (or some would say, “petty”) politics and gigantic budget problems. Can we all say, “The rent is too damn high?”

Kevin Flynn, the Charterite and former candidate, filed his paperwork Friday, having garnered 534 valid signatures on his petition. His name will be on the ballot, making him the seventh person to officially make the cut.

Former Hamilton County Prosecutor, city police officer, judge, FOX19 legal analyst, attorney and the guy who had extramarital relations with one of my former co-workers (always wondered why she wouldn’t go out on a date with me), Mike Allen, has crossed the 500-valid signature threshold and will appear on the fall ballot – if he makes it to the Elections board before August 25 and does what he, shall we say, needs to do. Hide your children, hide your wife.

Allen came in at 541 valid signatures in, what I am told, was lightening-fast speed – even without the endorsement of the Hamilton County Republican Party. Congratulations, Mr. Allen!

Charter candidate Chris Bortz sits at 368 valid signatures at this time, though, as with all candidates, is or is planning to bring in more voter petitions. Bortz has followed a similar pattern in recent election years, but has always turned in enough valid signatures to be placed on the ballot fairly close to the deadline.

First-timer Catherine Smith Mills (who, jokingly, I believe is planning to build a fence around our city, which I find to be a little self-serving – who do you think we’d get to build it, huh?), had 411 signatures. But while I was visiting the board Friday, she stopped in with 89 more and asked me to include that in anything I wrote. So, there you go Mrs. Mills. As of this afternoon, she has added 54 more valid names and stands at 465.

Republican mayor-hater Leslie Ghiz sits at 348 valid voter signatures, while Wendell Young, a Democrat appointed to Council, has 461.

First-time candidate Chris Seelbach, a Democrat who helped repeal Cincinnati’s anti-gay Article XII, finished his paperwork on August 2, shortly before NAACP president (or soon-to-be former president) and Coalition Opposed to Additional Spending and Taxes board member (only in Cincinnati, folks…only in Cincinnati) Christopher Smitherman solidified his candidacy on August 10, 2011.

Cincinnati CityBeat’s former Person of the Year, riding on the coattails of bringing a prominent Latino convention to Cincinnati, Jason Riveiro, sits at just 221 valid signatures. His campaign has been prominent in recent parades, so he appears to be a serious candidate who might need to ratchet things up a notch.

Cincinnati Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls, widely considered to be a strong contender for Cincinnati’s mayor when current Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory is term-limited out of office in 2013, has 505 valid signatures, but hasn’t finished filing. Same is true for first-term and former WCPO-TV investigative reporter Laure Quinlivan, who has 508 valid signatures but no paperwork or filing fee.

Democrat Nicholas Hollan, who owns Valley Dental and was endorsed last time by former Congressman Steve Driehaus, has about half of his requirement, with 325 valid signatures.

Republican Council appointee Wayne Lippert – tapped to fill a seat vacated by Cincinnati Bengals employee and once-endorsed Democrat Jeff Berding – has 516 valid signatures, but has yet to complete the process. Same is true for another appointment, Republican Amy Murray. She filled the seat once held by Hamilton County Commissioner Chris Monzel and she has 511 signatures. Preacher and former Democrat-turned-Republican Charlie Winburn (who refers to me as Doctor Wessels… been meaning to ask if that was a PhD. or M.D.), has 526 valid names and finished the process today, making him the eighth person to do so. This doctor says that bodes well for his re-election this fall.

Also on Friday, the first write-in candidate filed. Orlando Welborn will be an official candidate, though his name will not appear on the ballot.

There are also some lesser-known names vying to be on the ballot. These are the people with signatures and how many of them they have so far:

  • Jacqueline Allen – 212 (60 added since Friday)
  • Kathy Atkinson – 426
  • Patricia McCollum – 511

Several others have picked up petitions from the Board of Elections, but haven’t returned any valid signatures. They are:

  • Theo Barnes
  • James Ingram
  • Robert Jacobs
  • George Johnson
  • Roger Marksberry
  • Peterson Mingo
  • Weston Munzel
  • Gary Pierce
  • Eric Thompson
  • Edith Thrower

It’s shaping up to be an interesting election year, as they nearly all are. City politics is entering a particularly interesting era in the next two years, as Council members Bortz, Ghiz and Thomas will be term-limited off in 2013. Speculation that Roxanne Qualls and Charlie Winburn, and possibly others (former Councilman John Cranley), could vie for the mayor’s chair in 2013, and therefore ineligible to remain on Council, means Council’s majority could completely change after the 2013 election – if not before, because of resignations and appointments.

It’s worth noting, too, that former Vice Mayor Jim Tarbell, seen around town in recent weeks meeting with a plethora of political consultants, has decided not to seek election to Council this year, sources have said. This is the first year he’d be eligible after term limits prompted his resignation late in his term in 2007. Qualls was appointed to his seat.

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