WVXU's Trust In Local Government Series

WVXU has been covering the stories of politics and corruption at Cincinnati's City Hall since early 2020. We have now launched an initiative to more closely examine Cincinnati politics and the individuals who have shaped it, along with the current allegations of corruption. We'll also explore proposals for change, and seek feedback from local leaders and community members on what can be done to restore trust in City Hall.

Support for this project comes from The Murray and Agnes Seasongood Good Government Foundation.

"Trust in Local Government, WVXU's Public Integrity Project" will analyze our council-manager form of government and the charter amendments designed to reinforce ethical standards at City Hall; take a historical look at corruption in Cincinnati government; talk with the candidates for Cincinnati mayor and continue with an ongoing series of features, interviews and candidate profiles leading up to the November general election.

  

city hall
Wikimedia Commons

A measure voted down by a Cincinnati council committee Tuesday would have required immediate disclosure of some campaign donations. Council Member Greg Landsman says he's working on a new version of his proposal to require sitting council members and the mayor to report donations above $200 within 48 hours. The donations would be published on a new city website where the public could search the filings.

Sarah Ramsey

Cincinnati Council Member Betsy Sundermann is seeking a suspension for fellow member Wendell Young. The process is possible under a charter amendment voters approved Tuesday, which Sundermann had proposed be put on the ballot.

cincinnati city hall
Becca Costello / WVXU

Cincinnati voters overwhelmingly approved a pair of charter amendments related to corruption on City Council. Issues 1 and 2 each got more than 75% approval in the primary election.

aftab pureval david mann
Courtesy of the candidates

In an election with just 15.6% turnout, Cincinnati voters have chosen from a field of six mayoral candidates the two who are complete polar opposites – Hamilton County Clerk of Courts Aftab Pureval and Council Member David Mann.

steve chabot
John Minchillo / AP

The news this week that Rep. Steve Chabot's long-time political strategist and campaign manager Jamie Schwartz was charged by the feds with embezzling $1.4 million from Chabot's campaign fund was a great big, heaping helping of irony, slathered in a glaze of hypocrisy.

Sarah Ramsey

Cincinnati Council Member Wendell Young is pleading not guilty to a tampering with records charge. Young filed the plea in the Hamilton County Common Pleas Court Thursday.

ALL COURTESY OF THE CANDIDATES

On the ballot in this May's primary are six candidates vying to be Cincinnati's next mayor. The top two finishers on May 4 will face off in the November election for a four-year term as mayor.

steve chabot
John Minchillo / AP

A former campaign manager for U.S. Rep. Steve Chabot faces federal wire fraud and falsification of records charges for allegedly embezzling more than $1.4 million from Chabot's congressional campaign. Jamie Schwartz is expected to enter a guilty plea.

ALL COURTESY OF THE CANDIDATES

With just a week to go before Cincinnati voters cast their ballots in the May primary election, we bring you interviews with all six candidates running for mayor.

2021 cincinnati mayoral candidates
All courtesy of the candidates

This May 4, six people are vying to finish among the top two in the Cincinnati mayoral primary. Some are seasoned local politicians and others from outside of local government.

cincinnati city hall
Nick Swartsell / WVXU

For decades following a corrupt regime at City Hall, being the mayor of Cincinnati was mostly a ceremonial affair. That changed in 1999, when city voters approved an amendment to the city's charter allowing the mayor to be directly elected by voters and handing whoever won the seat a raft of powers over Cincinnati City Council.

cincinnati city hall
Becca Costello / WVXU

Cincinnatians can attend City Council and committee meetings in-person again, starting Monday. City Hall has been closed to the public since November due to the pandemic.

Jay Hanselman / WVXU

So how did Cincinnati end up with the council-manager form of government, where a professional city manager runs the day-to-day operations and a nine-member council sets policy?

WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

After the indictments of multiple Cincinnati City Council members, local voters will get the chance to weigh in on how members of council could be removed from office if future corruption cases arise. Vice Mayor Christopher Smitherman and Council Member Betsy Sundermann have both introduced charter amendments addressing corruption.

On Cincinnati Edition's weekly news review:

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