There are two competing theories as to how Cincinnati's fall Mayoral and Council election will play out this year.
One line of thinking holds that the City has elected the current Mayor and Council, and indeed shored up the liberal wing of Council with the 2011 elections, and thus the 2013 elections will be more of the same. Add to that thesis the fact that with added resources and name identification, most incumbents will be returned to office.
The other line of thinking holds that 2013 will be a year of change for Council and the Mayorship. This is so for several reasons, including the fact that Mayor Mallory is term-limited and there is one open seat on Council. But, mostly, the compelling issues of the Cincinnati Streetcar and the Parking Plot, seem to be motivating voters to look for new candidates. Add to that the insolvency of the Cincinnati pension the annually structurally-imbalanced budgets. Finally, there are uniquely-qualified non-incumbents with good name identification and strong campaigns underway, including Amy Murray, Kevin Flynn, Melissa Wegman and David Mann. Together, these factors present a unique and compelling formulation for change.
The reality will likely end up somewhere in between these two views. One, two or three non-incumbents will make it on Council, but the views of those non-incumbents on the Streetcar and Parking Plot, and the view of the new Mayor on those same issues, will color the direction of Cincinnati for the coming four to eight years. It would be a stunning rebuke of Mayor Mallory, for example, if an anti-Streetcar Mayor and just two anti-Streetcar non-incumbents ascended to Council.
Instructive in this debate will be the endorsements emanating from the Enquirer, the unions, COAST and others. For example, the post below reciting the 2013 Green Party endorsements is telling. That certainly left-leaning group endorsed Cranley for Mayor, and reformer incumbent Christopher Smitherman. They endorsed Republicans Amy Murray and Melissa Wegman, and Charterite Kevin Flynn. The Fraternal Order of Police and Cincinnati Firefighter unions have similarly endorsed reform slates.
Ultimately, of course, it is up to the voters and with that subject to the composition and size of the turnout what direction Cincinnati will take, but as for us we read the tea leaves as trending in 2013 towards much-needed change at City Hall.