Here's Who's Running For Cincinnati Mayor In 2021 – So Far

Jan 14, 2021

In many circles, Cincinnati Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld was a lock for the 2021 mayoral race. That all changed Nov. 19.

Before that day – when Sittenfeld was arrested on charges he accepted $40,000 in bribes in exchange for council votes, which he denies – only three others had thrown their proverbial hats in the ring, and only one of them had significant name recognition: Sittenfeld's fellow Democrat, Council Member David Mann.

Now with Sittenfeld seemingly out of the race for good – even if he is found not guilty, his chances of recouping his momentum are slim, according to WVXU Senior Political Analyst Howard Wilkinson – Cincinnati's mayoral race has gotten a lot more interesting.

Here are all of the top tier candidates we know so far who are taking a shot at becoming the city's next mayor, including those who have said – or signaled – they are thinking about it.

Most of the candidates currently listed are Democrats; so far no Republicans have publicly said they plan to run. Greg Hartmann is a former Hamilton County commissioner and a Republican whose name has been bounced around as a possible candidate, but Hartmann hasn't let on his intentions yet. He'd be climbing an uphill battle in a heavily Democratic city, but he could do well in the May primary in a crowded field of Democrats.

The filing deadline for candidates for the May primary is Feb. 18. The top two vote-getters in the nonpartisan primary will face each other in the November 2021 general election.

An * next to a name means they have gathered enough signatures to appear on the May primary ballot. 

Declared Candidates

Aftab Pureval (D)

On Jan. 14, the current Hamilton County Clerk of Courts announced he would run for the office of mayor "with an emphasis on leading an economic recovery from COVID and restoring the public's trust in City Hall."

Herman Najoli* (I)

Najoli, a native of Kenya, finished third in a three-candidate race for Hamilton County commissioner in November.

Chris Seelbach (D)
On Dec. 9, Seelbach issued a statement saying he was "exploring" a run. On Dec. 20, that exploration became a mission when he issued a statement stating he would be picking up petitions for the candidacy. "There is a long road to reach the May 4 primary," he wrote. "Today, we take the next step down that road."

David Mann (D)
Mann, a former mayor and congressman, declared his intention to run in May. After a political career that stretches back to the 1970s, Mann has the advantage of almost universal name recognition in the city.

Kelli Prather (D)
Prather, an occupational therapist, activist and perennial candidate for various offices, declared her intention to run in August.

Raffel Prophett* (D)
Prophett is a retired Cincinnati Fire Department district chief and a retired Lt. Colonel in the U.S. Army Reserves.

Cecil Thomas (D)
On Dec. 7, Ohio State Sen. Cecil Thomas picked up a petition packet from the Hamilton County Board of Elections office in Norwood, a board of elections staffer told our news partner WCPO, which later confirmed Thomas' intent to run for mayor next year.

The Maybes

David Pepper (D)
Pepper, who will leave his six-year stint as Ohio Democratic Party chairman at the end of the month, has not explicitly said he will run for Cincinnati mayor in 2021, but he told Wilkinson it is "something to consider."

Wendell Young (D)
WCPO reports the Democratic councilman picked up a petition packet from the Board of Elections Dec. 8.

Mark Mallory (D)
The former state senator served as mayor of the city from 2005 to 2013, running originally as a City Hall outsider who would "end the chaos" on City Council. He previously told WVXU that a number of people are urging him to run, and on Dec. 22, he picked up petitions. Still, he told WVXU he is only considering it.

This story was first published Dec. 9 and has been updated.