A Look Ahead to the 2021 Cincinnati Mayoral Race

The 2021 Cincinnati mayor and council election will change the face of the city’s government. Here’s what we know so far.

The 2021 Cincinnati mayor’s race is expected to get more crowded and diverse: Four of the five mayoral races since Cincinnati began directly electing its mayor 20 years ago featured an African American finalist or winner. As we went to press (and after we commissioned the illustration that accompanies this story) The Enquirer reported that activist Kelli Prather will join the race. That means a nonpartisan primary will be held in May 2021, with the top two finishers competing head-to-head in November.

Illustration by Javier Muñoz

David Mann

Served two brief terms as appointed mayor in Cincinnati’s earlier government system—once each in the 1980s and the ’90s—and returned to city council in 2013; he finished second to Sittenfeld in 2017. Mann, 81 in late September, chairs council’s Budget & Finance Committee and will likely focus his campaign on fixing the city’s pandemic-battered finances.

P.G. Sittenfeld

He finished first in the 2013 and 2017 council elections and made a ton of political and fund-raising connections during a brief run for U.S. Senate in 2016. In 2011, he became the youngest person ever elected to city council. (He turns 36 on October 1.) Sittenfeld has launched a campaign website touting his leadership on public transportation, job creation, and bail and rent reform.

City Council

Council reverts to two-year terms in 2021, and the race should jumpstart a number of political careers. Besides Mann and Sittenfeld, veterans Chris Seelbach, Christopher Smitherman, and Wendell Young are term-limited. That leaves just four incumbents on the ballot: Greg Landsman and Jeff Pastor, who finished seventh and ninth respectively in 2017, and Jan-Michele Kearney and Betsy Sundermann, who were appointed earlier this year and haven’t yet been elected on their own.

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