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Smitherman re-elected to NAACP presidency

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Cincinnati city council member Christopher Smitherman was re-elected to a fourth two-year term Tuesday as president of the Cincinnati chapter of the NAACP, fighting off a challenge from a long-time union leader, Bob Richardson.

At Richardson's request, Tuesday's election was supervised by officials of the NAACP's national office, who would not release the final results of the election, except to say that about 1,100 members voted Tuesday at the NAACP's Bond Hill office.

Smitherman's entire executive committee was re-elected as well.

Richardson, a long-time union leader and former member of the local NAACP's board, had said he was challenging Smitherman because he had veered away from the 103-year-old organization's core civil rights mission and made alliances with conservative tea party activists and COAST - Coalition Opposed to Additional Spending and Taxes.

Smitherman, who was elected to Cincinnati City Council in 2011 as an independent, argued that six years ago, he took over a struggling organization and turned it around, swelling the membership ranks and making it financially stable again.

Smitherman put out a brief statement on his re-election Tuesday night.

"We look forward to working with everyone in an effort to move forward collectively,''  the statement said.

Rob Richardson, a lawyer who is son of the candidate who challenged Smitherman, put out a statement Wednesday morning thanking those who support his father's candidacy.

"Although we did not win the election, we did confirm that members are demanding more accountability,'' Rob Richardson said.

Smitherman had said that about 2,250 local NAACP members were qualified to vote in Tuesday's election.

Howard Wilkinson joined the WVXU News Team after 30 years of covering local and state politics for The Cincinnati Enquirer. A native of Dayton, Ohio, Wilkinson has covered every Ohio governor’s race since 1974 as well as 12 presidential nominating conventions. His streak continued by covering both the 2012 Republican and Democratic conventions for 91.7 WVXU. Along with politics, Wilkinson also covered the 2001 Cincinnati race riots; the Lucasville Prison riot in 1993; the Air Canada plane crash at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport in 1983; and the 1997 Ohio River flooding. The Cincinnati Reds are his passion. "I've been listening to WVXU and public radio for many years, and I couldn't be more pleased at the opportunity to be part of it,” he says.