Cincinnati Mayoral Election Jolts to Life With First Three David Mann v. Aftab Pureval Debates

Seniors take note: this is an election you could take part in


Nick Watts, News Editor '23

Disclaimer: Author works for David Mann

The 2021 Cincinnati Mayoral Election has finally sprung to life with the first three debates between candidates. Until now, this sleepier-than-usual election had been one that had flown under the radar of most voters, even during the nonpartisan primary back in May. The two candidates that finished at the top of the primary were current Hamilton County Clerk of Courts Aftab Pureval and current Councilman David Mann. David Mann has also served on the Council for more than twenty years – 1974-1992 and 2013-present – including twice as the Mayor of Cincinnati, is the current Chairman of the Budget Committee, and served in the United States House of Representatives from 1993-1995. Both men presented starkly different views on how to lead Cincinnati forward after the coronavirus pandemic, a national reckoning on race, and a culture of corruption at City Hall.

Throughout the three debates, many issues were discussed that presented the differences between Mann and Pureval’s vision for the city. On the issue of police-community relations, Pureval believes that sending mental health professionals into more situations would be beneficial to the community. “I think it’s more about using our resources to address the violent crime in our community and not using police officers for services they are not needed for,” he said.

Mann, who is endorsed by the Cincinnati Fraternal Order of Police, believes that plan to be unrealistic. Mann added, “Based on that 911 operator, we’re going to make a determination that an armed officer is not needed? I don’t think that makes sense.”

On the issue of economic development, both candidates agree that supporting Black-owned businesses is a priority for the city, especially in the wake of the racial justice outcries last summer. David Mann, as Chairman of the Budget Committee, likes to tout his experience managing over 1.5 billion dollars and overseeing over 6,000 employees. Aftab Pureval claimed that his economic recovery and development plans outlined on his website explain what his economic priorities will be as mayor. A specific economic issue, the earnings tax, could potentially be a game-changing decision for some voters. The Cincinnati earnings tax taxes 1.8% of income made by an employee working in the City of Cincinnati. When asked whether or not he supports raising it, Aftab said, “Any kind of commitment on the earnings tax before we have a better sense of what the economy looks like, what our budget looks like post-pandemic, is completely irresponsible.” David Mann pointed out that not only was he opposed to raising the earnings tax under any circumstances, but that voters should be concerned that Aftab is open to potentially raising it.

On the issue of potentially replacing the city manager, Paula Boggs Muething, Pureval said that he would be interested in launching a national search for a new city manager if she does not subscribe to his vision of the city. Mann said that he would not be interested in replacing Boggs Muething as long as she is doing a good job. Mann criticized Pureval for wanting to replace her as evidence that he is not bipartisan and does not enjoy working with those who disagree with him.

This mayoral election is serving as a stark generational choice. Mann, at 82, is running against the 39-year-old Pureval. In the closing section of the third debate, both candidates put this divide on clear display. Pureval commented that he is the best choice to lead the city forward because he is committed to “setting a bold, progressive, effective vision to push our city forward.” David Mann criticized Pureval because he “…believe[s] this is another waystation as he’s run twice for clerk of courts, once for Congress. He took his oath of office for clerk of courts a second time and within days he announced for mayor.” Responding to this, Pureval claimed that he is “no stranger to transformational change in government” and that his status as an outsider is more advantageous than having the decades of experience that Mann has. With the corruption that the city has seen at City Hall, including the arrests of three members of City Council, both candidates believe in cleaning up the corruption but disagree as to which background would be more suited for erasing the culture of corruption.



If you live in the City of Cincinnati, are over 18, and are registered to vote, please make your voice heard in this year’s mayoral election on November 2nd. This race comes at a critical time for all of the reasons listed previously; your voice matters.

You can find out information about your polling place here:

More information about each of the candidates here: Mann ( and Pureval (

And watch any of the three debates in the source links below

The deadline for registering to vote for this election has passed, but you can register to vote in special elections and next year’s midterms here: