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Politics

Mayor Pureval claims less drama, more results during his first 100 days in office

aftab pureval
Jason Whitman
/
WVXU
Mayor Aftab Pureval during a ceremony at Washington Park. Tuesday, January 4, 2022.

Cincinnati's new elected officials are closing out an unusually busy first 100 days in office.

Since the swearing-in ceremony for mayor and City Council in January, the city has had its worst-yet wave of COVID-19 infections. Mayor Aftab Pureval says there have also been milestones to celebrate, like the Bengals reaching the Super Bowl.

"We all realized we had a golden opportunity to sell our city, to let people know that yes, we are proud of our past, and it has an impact on our future — but this is not your grandparents' Cincinnati. We are young and diverse and bold," Pureval said in prepared remarks at Wednesday's council meeting.

Pureval says he and council inherited a City Hall known more for "petty drama" and negative headlines than for getting things done. He says one priority is to change the public perception.

"That is part of the reason why I've done one to two press conferences every week," Pureval said. "So that people know exactly what we're up to, that we provide the press and the community the opportunity to ask us tough questions, so that we're accessible and completely transparent through this whole process. I don't know if I can keep that pace up, but that is certainly a commitment that I'm interested in keeping throughout all of my four years."

Pureval says he and council have accomplished a lot "without drama" over the last few months. It's true council has been remarkably united on most issues, which isn't surprising given that eight of the nine campaigned together on the same ticket.

There are a few notable exceptions, however, like the proposed ordinance that would have removed or increased density limits in parts of all 52 neighborhoods.

"What you have seen, even when we disagreed around density, is that we can disagree without being disagreeable," Pureval said. "And that change in culture is obviously more important because it's a better place to work and reflects a more professional perspective on to the city, but it's also ultimately most effective."

One new policy at City Hall is that the administration will only buy electric vehicles for the city from now on, as long as that option is available.

Pureval says he's most proud of establishing an annual revenue source for the Affordable Housing Fund, a move that also directed new funding to the city's unfunded pension liability.

His administration also had the rare opportunity to propose spending millions of dollars in his first few months in office.

The federal government recently determined some projects approved last year are not eligible for federal stimulus from the American Rescue Plan.

So far this year, Council has approved close to $8 million in spending on efforts proposed by Pureval's office. Council Member Liz Keating — the only Republican on Council — has been somewhat critical of that process, and a few other council members initially agreed. Pureval says each proposal was based on well-established council and public priorities.

"Every time that we allocated money towards our strategic priorities, we were very intentional to partner with a council member," Pureval said. "Every single vote of this money … were all supported by Council 9-0. And that suggests to you that all of these issues were consensus issues that the community wanted, that I wanted, and that also Council wanted."

More change is on the horizon for city leadership. A nationwide search is underway for both a new city manager and a new police chief.

Pureval says the search firm Polihire has been chosen to lead the hiring process to replace former City Manager Paula Boggs Muething, who announced her resignation after former Mayor John Cranley left office.

"Polihire is a Black-owned search firm that is specifically experienced in municipal hires at this level and at this caliber for larger cities, and similarly situated cities," Pureval said. "We are still on the timeline of having a city manager in place by this summer."

John Curp is serving as interim city manager and is also overseeing the process for hiring a new police chief. A different search firm will facilitate that process.