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In final debate, candidates for mayor show off 'stark differences'

Council Member David Mann (left) and Hamilton County Clerk of Courts Aftab Pureval in the final televised debate for the 2021 mayoral election.
Aftab Pureval (left) and David Mann, candidates for Cincinnati mayor.

The candidates for Cincinnati mayor faced off Thursday night in one final debate before Election Day. You can watch the full debate below.

Council Member David Mann says his vision for the next four years is to build on the growth of the last eight years.

"I've loved working with, serving with Mayor Cranley; I think he's done a good job," Mann said. "I have a different personality, but I'm going to collaborate, develop a team with a new council, and we're going to move forward as this great city deserves at this point in time."

Hamilton County Clerk of Courts Aftab Pureval says he's offering something different, with four plans focused on economic development, public safety, affordable housing and climate change.

"It's a stark difference between what Mr. Mann is offering and what we're offering," Pureval said. "I'm asking you to choose change. I'm asking you to support innovation."

Asked about a new citizen engagement policy being developed at City Hall, Mann says the city is on the right track.

"We used to have a Department of Planning, which is a very important part of the city's family of departments," Mann said. "It has been for some months the Department of City Planning and Community Engagement, and that's because our city manager, long before the ordinance that you referenced, is devoted to making sure that community engagement is at the top of the list for community directors as they make decisions involving neighborhoods or communities."

Pureval, on the other hand, says the city has a lot of room for improvement.

"The pandemic has made it difficult for all of us to engage in person, for all of us to chat and to connect, but it's also ushered in a lot of innovation," Pureval said. "Whether it's FaceTime or Zoom, there's a lot of tools now at the city's disposal to engage with citizens, no matter whether they can leave their homes or not. I would mean to prioritize that kind of innovation and use those formats to engage more with the community, not less."

Both candidates say the city should seriously consider sharing more services with Hamilton County as a way to save money, especially since income tax revenue is likely to go down significantly as more people work from home.

Mann says shared services are not simple, giving the example of a long delay in emergency response that resulted in the death of teenager Kyle Plush a few years ago.

"We took a look at the counties 911 Center, and whether the two centers could be joined together," Mann said. "And the difference is dramatic between the cultures between the systems. And it would be very complicated."

Pureval says he's in a good position to face that challenge.

"I come from the county," Pureval said. "I know the commissioners personally and professionally. I'm confident that I can bridge that divide."

When offered the chance to ask the other candidate one question, Pureval asked Mann about his support for the 1994 crime bill while serving in Congress.

"A lot of folks have an opportunity to reflect on whether it was the right decision," Mann said. "It had consequences that I don't think we understood at the time. So had I understood those consequences at the time, I would have voted differently."

In turn, Mann asked Pureval if he will commit to fulfilling the entire four-year term if he's elected.

"Yes, I'll fulfill my term," Pureval said. "Absolutely, proudly."

Early voting is underway leading up to the Nov. 2 Election Day.

Watch the full debate below:

Local Government Reporter with a particular focus on Cincinnati; experienced journalist in public radio and television throughout the Midwest. Enthusiastic about: civic engagement, public libraries, and urban planning.