Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls – who served as Cincinnati’s mayor in the 1990s – formally launched her campaign to return to the mayor’s office with an event Thursday morning in Walnut Hills that drew dozens of supporters.
One of those supporters was the present mayor, Mark Mallory, who will be term-limited out of office in 2013. Mallory appointed Qualls as vice mayor; and made her chair of Cincinnati City Council’s most influential committee, the Budget and Finance Committee.
The 59-year-old Qualls – who was elected to council with endorsements from both the Democratic Party and the Charter Committee – has one announced opponent, former council member John Cranley, also a Democrat.
Before her event at a pottery factory in Walnut Hills, Qualls told WVXU that bringing long-term financial stability to a city that has suffered from declining revenues and large budget deficits for nearly 12 years would be her priority as mayor.
“Long term stability means growing jobs and bringing people back into the city,’’ Qualls said.
There has been some success in recent years, Qualls said. Over the past two years, she said, the city has “attracted or retained 7,000 jobs.”
But the city’s operating budget must be stabilized, Qualls said.
“We are going to have to continue to improve efficiency,’’ Qualls said. “We are going to have to seriously look at shared services – not just with the county. There are a lot of political jurisdictions, so we should be looking throughout Hamilton County. And we are going to have to enact more reforms in our pension system.”
One issue that clearly divides the two announced candidates for mayor is construction of the streetcar – Cranley opposes it; Qualls has been an ardent supporter.
“I know that for Cincinnati to grow and compete – not only regionally but nationally – we have to have a 21st century transportation system,’’ Qualls said.
The streetcar project, Qualls said, “connects the two major employment centers of the region – downtown, where about 60,000 people work and the hospitals and university area of Uptown, where there are about 55,000 employees and 50,000 residents.”
If at least one more candidate announces and files petitions for mayor before the June deadline – and it's a near certainty that some will – there will be a primary election for mayor in September. The top two finishers in that primary will face each other in the November 2013 general election.