Mann: Time to change the mayoral election system

Sep 11, 2013

Tuesday's mayoral primary election, with its record low turnout of 5.68 percent, has convinced former mayor and congressman David Mann that Cincinnati needs a new way of electing its mayor.

Mann, who is now running for city council with Democratic and Charter Committee endorsements, said that if he is elected, he will introduce a charter amendment that will replace the direct election of the mayor system that has been in place since 2001.

Only 5.68 percent of the city's voters showed up for Tuesday's mayoral primary election. Former councilman John Cranley and Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls were the top two vote-getters in a four candidate field and will face each other in the November election.

Mann's plan would do away with the September primary.

Instead, Mann said, he would have a mayoral election on the general election day in November. with no limit on the number of candidates who can file.

If a candidate receives more than 50 percent of the vote, he or she would become mayor.

If no candidate reaches 50 percent, the top two finishers would face off in a run-off election two weeks later.

"Spending $400,000 to obtain votes from five percent of the electorate is absurd,'' Mann said, referring to the cost of Tuesday's primary. 

Mann conceded that a run-off election would cost taxpayers, too, but said "there will be years when no run-off is necessary."

Hamilton County Democratic Party chairman Tim Burke, who chairs the county elections board, called Mann's plan "intriguing," but said it might have to build in more time for the board to certify the results of the mayoral elections. The board must wait 10 days after an election to conduct its official count.

That might mean they couldn't finish in time for the new mayor to take office Dec. 1, as the charter proscribes now.

Mann said his charter amendment could be written so that the mayor takes office on January 1 instead of Dec. 1.