John Cranley

The polls are open in Cincinnati, as city residents take their first step toward choosing a new mayor in today's primary election election.

Polling places opened at 6:30 a.m. and the voting ends at 7:30 p.m.

Board of elections officials are expecting a very low turnout. Hamilton County Democratic Party chairman Tim Burke, the chairman of the elections board, said this morning he believes turnout could be as low as 10 percent.

So the Hamilton County Democratic Party has two candidates for mayor – John Cranley and Roxanne Qualls – and party leaders have vowed not to play favorites.

So why, in the campaign finance reports filed this week, did Qualls get $9,000 from the party and Cranley got $2,500?

Because, if you are a candidate for mayor or Cincinnati city council, the Democratic Party has a deal for you!

Here’s how it works:


John Cranley has a fundraising edge over Roxanne Qualls in the Cincinnati mayor’s race, according to campaign finance reports filed Wednesday.

Cranley, a former Cincinnati City Council member, had raised about $472,000 compared to $348,000 for Qualls, the city’s vice mayor.

According to the campaign finance reports, Cranley had about $264,000 in the bank as of June 30, the last day of the reporting period. Qualls had a cash-on-hand balance of about $192,000.

Mayoral candidate John Cranley, along with several city council members and candidates, are calling on the Port Authority to put an end to the city's parking lease deal based on a memo from the city's parking lease consultant that says the costs will be excessive.

The June 20 memo, from Walker Parking Consultants, was delivered to the city administration the day before City Manager Milton Dohoney Jr. signed an agreement with the Port Authority to lease out the city's metered and garage parking to private companies.

There will be a primary election for Cincinnati mayor on September 10.  How much it will tell us about who will ultimately become the new mayor of the city on December 1 is an open question.

We do know this – it will be one of the two top vote-getters in the primary, who will face each other in the November election.

Five candidates filed petitions to run for Cincinnati mayor last week, but only four had enough valid signatures to make the Sept. 10 primary ballot, according to the Hamilton County Board of Elections.

Stacy Smith, a first-time candidate, submitted petitions with 794 signatures, but only 367 of them were valid signatures of Cincinnati voters.

Candidates must have 500 valid signatures to qualify for the ballot.

So, it appears there will be no referendum on the city of Cincinnati’s parking lease agreement on the ballot this fall.

Unless, that is, in the unlikely event that the Ohio Supreme Court decides to take up the appeal of the decision made by the Ohio First District Court of Appeals this week saying the agreement is not subject to referendum because it was passed in March as an emergency ordinance.

But nobody on either side of this really expects this to happen.

Poor old Cincinnati Republicans.

They don’t have a mayoral candidate of their own.

There’s John Cranley, Democrat. Roxanne Qualls, Democrat. Jim Berns, Libertarian. And probably a couple more before the June 27 filing deadline for the September 10 mayoral primary.

But nary a Republican.

A good old-fashioned family fight is a frequent occurrence in the Democratic Party, but this year's race for Cincinnati mayor won't be one of them.

The party leadership, in a recent blast e-mail to the party faithful made it clear they won't be taking sides in the battle between two Democratic mayoral candidates - Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls and former council member John Cranley.

Caleb Faux, the Hamilton County Democratic Party's executive director, said neither candidate has asked the party for an endorsement.

Over the past few weeks, the fight in the Cincinnati mayor’s race has been about the streetcar.

Roxanne Qualls for it; John Cranley against it.

This week, it is about parking meters and whether they should be leased to a private company, an issue that is going to be decided by Cincinnati City Council in the next few weeks.

Once again, Qualls for it; Cranley against it.

Don’t worry, the streetcar debate will come back. That debate is likely to go on all year, right up to election day.