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Tennessee legislature votes to send amendment providing for an acting governor to the 2022 ballot

On May 4, the Tennessee General Assembly voted to send a constitutional amendment to provide a process, along with a line of succession, for an acting governor when the governor is unable to perform the office’s powers and duties.

The ballot measure would allow the governor to provide a written, signed declaration saying that he or she is unable to perform the powers and duties of the office. The speaker of the Senate, who also serves as the Lieutenant Governor of Tennessee, would serve as acting governor. If the office of the speaker of the Senate is vacant, the speaker of the House would be next in line to assume the office. The acting governor would perform the duties of the office until the governor provides a written, signed declaration saying he or she is able to perform the office’s powers and duties again. The ballot measure would also allow a majority of executive department officials to determine that the governor is unable to perform his or her powers and duties, putting an acting governor in power until the governor provides a written, signed declaration saying he or she is able to perform the office’s powers and duties.

The Tennessee State Legislature can refer constitutional amendments to the ballot for gubernatorial general elections. The Tennessee Constitution requires the legislature to approve a constitutional amendment during two successive legislative sessions with an election in between. However, the constitution provides for two different vote requirements depending on the session. During the first legislative session, the constitutional amendment needs to receive a simple majority (50%+1) vote in each legislative chamber. During the second legislative session, the constitutional amendment needs to receive a two-thirds vote in each legislative chamber. In the state Senate, that amounts to 17 votes during the first session and 22 votes during the second session, assuming no vacancies. In the state House, that amounts to 50 votes during the first session and 66 votes during the second session.

During the 2019 legislative session, Sen. Becky Duncan Massey (R) introduced the constitutional amendment into the legislature as Senate Joint Resolution 154 (SJR 154) on February 5, 2019. On April 18, 2019, the state Senate approved SJR 154, in a vote of 32-0, with one senator not voting. On May 2, 2019, the state House approved SJR 154, with 92 members supporting the amendment, two members opposing the amendment, and two members not voting.

The amendment was introduced as Senate Joint Resolution 10 (SJR 10) during the 2021 legislative session on January 12, 2021. The Senate passed SJR 10 on March 4, 2021, in a vote of 32-0, with one not voting. The House approved an amended version of SJR 10 on May 3, 2021, in a vote of 91-0. On May 4, the Senate concurred with the amendments in a vote of 29-0.

The amendment is one of three set to appear on the 2022 statewide ballot. Tennessee voters will also be deciding a right to work amendment and an amendment that would remove language that allows the use of slavery and involuntary servitude as criminal punishment.

Tennessee voters last decided on a constitutional amendment in 2014. Tennessee voters approved 100% of the 11 statewide ballot measures appearing on ballots between 1995 and 2014.



Tennessee voters will decide 2022 amendment to remove language that allows the use of slavery and involuntary servitude as criminal punishment

On May 4, the Tennessee General Assembly voted to refer a constitutional amendment to the 2022 general election ballot that would remove language that allows the use of slavery and involuntary servitude as criminal punishment and replace it with the statement, “Slavery and involuntary servitude are forever prohibited.” The ballot measure would also state that the language does not prohibit an inmate from working when the inmate has been duly convicted of a crime.

In 2020, voters in Nebraska and Utah voted to remove language from their respective constitutions that allowed the use of slavery and involuntary servitude as criminal punishments. Nebraska Amendment 1 was approved by a margin of 68.23% to 31.77%. Utah Constitutional Amendment C was approved by a margin of 80.48% to 19.52%.

As of 2021:

• Ten states had constitutions that included provisions prohibiting enslavement and involuntary servitude but with an exception for criminal punishments.

• Nine states had constitutions that included provisions permitting involuntary servitude, but not slavery, as a criminal punishment.

• One state—Vermont—had a constitutional provision permitting involuntary servitude to pay a debt, damage, fine, or cost.

The Tennessee State Legislature can refer constitutional amendments to the ballot for gubernatorial general elections. The Tennessee Constitution requires the legislature to approve a constitutional amendment during two successive legislative sessions with an election in between. However, the constitution provides for two different vote requirements depending on the session. During the first legislative session, the constitutional amendment needs to receive a simple majority (50%+1) vote in each legislative chamber. During the second legislative session, the constitutional amendment needs to receive a two-thirds vote in each legislative chamber. In the state Senate, that amounts to 17 votes during the first session and 22 votes during the second session, assuming no vacancies. In the state House, that amounts to 50 votes during the first session and 66 votes during the second session.

During the 2019 legislative session, Sen. Raumesh Akbari (D-29) introduced the constitutional amendment into the legislature as Senate Joint Resolution 159 (SJR 159) on February 5, 2019.

On March 25, 2019, the state Senate approved SJR 159, in a vote of 32-0. On April 22, 2019, the state House approved SJR 159, in a vote of 97-0.

The amendment was introduced during the 2021 legislative session as Senate Joint Resolution 80 (SJR 80). The Senate approved SJR 80 on March 15, 2021, in a vote of 26-4. On May 4, 2021, the House approved SJR 80 in a vote of 81-2, with two present and not voting.

State Representatives Joe Towns (D) said, “Today is a historic day as this state has taken a definitive step forward in stripping all forms of slavery from the Tennessee State Constitution. Some Tennesseans may be prisoners, but, by God, they will not be slaves.  We are the first Southern State to embrace universal abolition. I am proud to have carried this joint resolution and now we need all Tennesseans to join us in correcting this wrong by voting for this constitutional amendment in November of 2022.”

The amendment is one of three set to appear on the 2022 statewide ballot. Tennessee voters will also be deciding a right to work amendment and an amendment that provides a process, along with a line of succession, for an acting governor when the governor is unable to perform the offices’ powers and duties.

Tennessee voters last decided on a constitutional amendment in 2014. Tennessee voters approved 100% of the 11 statewide ballot measures appearing on ballots between 1995 and 2014.



Hawaii State Senate Majority Leader Jamie Kalani English resigns

Hawaii State Senate Majority Leader Jamie Kalani English (D-7) resigned on May 1, citing the long-term health effects of a past COVID-19 infection. 

English said he contracted COVID-19 in November 2020. “After many discussions with my doctors, talks with those close to me and careful thought, I am announcing my retirement from the Hawai‘i State Senate, effective May 1, 2021,” English said in a press release. “Having been deemed a long hauler, I was diagnosed with long-term effects of COVID-19. My new normal will require me to address some of the challenges left to my short and long-term memory and other cognitive issues derived from the virus. These challenges have placed a number of things into perspective for me, including the need to take better care of my health.”

English represented Hawaii’s 7th state senate district from 2000 to 2021. He ran unopposed in the 2014 and 2018 general elections. He served as the Hawaii Senate majority leader from 2015 to 2021. The state Senate appointed Sen. Dru Kanuha (D-3) as the new majority leader on May 5.

If there is a vacancy in the Hawaii State Legislature, the governor is responsible for appointing a replacement. The political party committee that last held the vacant seat has 30 days after the vacancy to submit a list of three recommended candidates to the governor, who selects from among those three.

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Minnesota, Pennsylvania announce plans to lift face covering requirements

Minnesota Governor Tim Walz (D) announced May 6 that he will end the statewide mask mandate on July 1. Walz said the mask mandate could be lifted earlier if 70% of residents age 16 and older receive at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine. 

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf (D) said on May 4 he will end the statewide mask mandate when 70% of residents age 18 and older are fully vaccinated. Wolf did not announce a target date for ending the restrictions.

Ballotpedia tracked four other amendments to statewide mask orders over the last week:

*Colorado Gov. Jared Polis (D) amended the state’s mask order on May 2. The updated order lifts the requirement for people to wear masks in indoor spaces with more than 10 people if 80% of those individuals are fully vaccinated. The order does not say what proof is necessary to demonstrate vaccination status.

*Michigan Director of the Department of Health and Human Services Elizabeth Hertel issued an order May 4 lifting the outdoor mask requirement for gatherings of fewer than 100 people. Additionally, players in organized contact sports are no longer required to wear masks.

*Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) issued an emergency directive updating the statewide mask mandate order to align with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) latest guidance on May 3. The updated language states that people “shall be required to cover their nose and mouth with a mask or face covering in a manner consistent with current guidance issued by the CDC, and any subsequent guidance issued by the CDC.” 

*Vermont Gov. Phil Scott (R) revised the outdoor mask mandate for vaccinated and non-vaccinated residents and visitors on May 1. Masks are now only required in crowded settings when social distancing isn’t possible. 

In total, 39 states issued statewide public mask requirements during the pandemic. Twenty-five states currently have statewide mask orders, including 20 of the 23 states with Democratic governors and five out of the 27 states with Republican governors. 

Of the 14 states that have ended statewide public mask requirements, 11 have Republican governors and 3 have Democratic governors. Eleven states have ended mask requirements through executive order, two (Kansas and Utah) have ended mask requirements through legislative action, and one (Wisconsin) has ended its mandate through court order.



Special election primary to be held on May 18 in California Assembly district

A special election primary is being held on May 18 for District 54 of the California State Assembly. Isaac Bryan (D), Dallas Denise Fowler (D), Heather Hutt (D), Samuel Morales (D), Cheryl Turner (D), and Bernard Senter (No party preference) are running in the primary. If a candidate receives more than 50% of the vote in the primary, he or she will win the election outright. If no candidate receives a majority of the votes, the top two candidates will advance to a special general election on July 20. The winner will serve until December 2022.

The seat became vacant after Sydney Kamlager-Dove (D) was elected to the state Senate in a special election primary on March 2. She had represented District 54 since 2018.

Heading into the special election, Democrats have a 58-19 majority in the California Assembly with one independent member and two vacancies. California has a Democratic state government trifecta. A trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and majorities in both state legislative chambers.

As of May, 38 state legislative special elections have been scheduled for 2021 in 16 states. Between 2011 and 2020, an average of 75 special elections took place each year. California held 28 state legislative special elections from 2011 to 2020.

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Incumbents sweep school board election in Lincoln, Nebraska

Four incumbents were re-elected to the Lincoln Public Schools school board in Nebraska in the nonpartisan general election on May 4. Kathy Danek (District 1), Barbara Beier (District 3), Lanny Boswell (District 5), and Don Mayhew (District 7) each won new four-year terms on the seven-member board.

Baier and Boswell ran unopposed in the general election as well as in the primary that was held on April 6. Danek advanced from the primary alongside opponent Christina Campbell and won the general election with 56% of the vote. Mayhew advanced from the primary alongside opponent Michael Patestas and won the general election with 60% of the vote.

The city of Lincoln, Nebraska, also held nonpartisan general elections on May 4 for three at-large seats on the city council and two at-large seats on the Lincoln Airport Authority. Six candidates, including three incumbents, competed for the city council seats. All six advanced from the April 6 primary after defeating four other candidates. Incumbents Sändra Washington and Bennie Shobe were re-elected to the city council in the general election, and newcomer Tom Beckius won his first term on the board. John Olsson and Nicki Behmer won the airport authority seats.

Lincoln Public Schools served 41,737 students during the 2017-2018 school year. Lincoln is the second-largest city in Nebraska and the 71st-largest city in the U.S. by population.

Additional reading: 



Here’s how Virginia Republicans will select their statewide nominees on May 8

Republicans in Virginia will be meeting on Saturday to pick their statewide nominees for governor, lieutenant governor, and attorney general. The Republican Party of Virginia chose to hold an unassembled convention rather than a primary, meaning delegates, voters who registered to participate in the convention, will decide the nominees.

Conventions in Virginia typically take place with delegates meeting at a single location, but due to coronavirus restrictions, the party developed a new set of rules for 2021. Here’s a breakdown:

• The convention is taking place from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on May 8, 2021.

• Delegates will meet at 39 different locations across the state. Each delegate represents a voting unit and may only vote at the polling place assigned to his or her given voting unit.

• There are 125 voting units. These units mainly correspond with each of the state’s 95 counties and 38 independent cities.

• Over 53,000 delegates registered to participate in the convention, a record number.

Delegate votes are weighted. The state party allocated a set number of votes to each voting unit, which will, in turn, be divided among the delegates assigned to that voting unit. For example, if the party allocated 100 votes to a unit and 100 delegates participate, each delegate would have one vote. If 200 delegates participate in that voting unit, each would have half a vote.

• The convention will use ranked-choice voting, an electoral system in which voters rank candidates by preference on their ballots rather than voting for just one candidate. If one candidate wins a majority of voters’ first-preference votes, they win outright. Otherwise, the bottom-placing candidate is eliminated and their votes are distributed among their voters’ next choices. The process is repeated until one candidate wins a majority.

• This is the Republican Party of Virginia’s second election using ranked-choice voting. The party previously used the system to select its chairman in 2020. This will be the first time the state party uses the system in a candidate election.

All ballots will be counted by hand. After the convention, the ballots will be delivered to a central location and counting will begin on Sunday. Party chairman Rich Anderson (R) said they are prepared to count until the following Thursday, but he expects counting to be finished by the following Tuesday.

Republicans last won a statewide race in Virginia in 2009, when Bob McDonnell (R) was elected governor. Virginia became a Democratic trifecta in 2019 after Democrats won control of both the state House and Senate.

To learn more about the 2021 convention process in Virginia, click here: https://ballotpedia.org/Virginia_gubernatorial_election,_2021_(May_8_Republican_convention)#Conventions_in_Virginia_.282021.29

Learn more about the races up for election on Saturday using the links below:



Omaha, Nebraska, voters to decide mayoral, city council races on May 11

The nonpartisan general election for Omaha, Neb., will be held on May 11. The top-two primary was held on April 6. Candidates will be competing for mayor and seven city council seats. On election day, the polls will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

In the mayoral race, incumbent Jean Stothert and RJ Neary are facing off in the general election. Stothert is one of 26 Republican mayors across the country’s 100 largest cities. She was first elected in 2013, following Democratic control of the mayorship since 2001, and won re-election in 2017. She is Omaha’s longest-serving Republican mayor since 1906.

Neary is the chairman of Investors Realty, a commercial real estate investment company, and the former chairman of the Omaha Planning Board. During the primary, he received endorsements from the city’s three most recent Democratic mayors: Mike Fahey, Jim Suttle, and Mike Boyle.

Seven city council seats will also be on the May 11 ballot. District 3 incumbent Chris Jerram was the only city council member to not file for re-election in 2021. Five incumbents advanced past the primary election and will appear on the general election ballot. District 5 incumbent Colleen Brennan lost her re-election bid after placing fifth in the primary election.

*District 1: Incumbent Pete Festersen and Sarah Johnson are facing off in the general election. Festersen has served on the city council since 2009.

*District 2: Incumbent Ben Gray and Juanita Johnson will face off in the general election. Gray has represented District 2 since 2009.

*District 3: Danny Begley and Cammy Watkins are competing for this open seat. Incumbent Jerram announced in August 2020 that he would not seek a fourth term in 2021. He has represented District 3 on the city council since 2009.

*District 4: Incumbent Vinny Palermo and Rebecca Barrientos-Patlan will face off in the general election. Palermo has served on the city council since 2017.

*District 5: Patrick Leahy and Don Rowe will face off in the general election. Incumbent Colleen Brennan was appointed to the seat in December 2020. She placed fifth in the April 6 primary election and did not advance to the general election.

*District 6: Incumbent Brinker Harding and Naomi Hattaway will face off in the general election. Harding has represented District 6 on the city council since 2017.

*District 7: Incumbent Aimee Melton and Sara Kohen are facing off in the general election. Melton has served on the city council since 2013.

Omaha is the 42nd largest city by population in the United States. In 2021, Ballotpedia is covering municipal elections in 22 counties and 71 cities, including 43 mayoral elections.

Additional Reading:



Union Station: Biden creates labor organizing and collective bargaining task force

Biden creates labor organizing and collective bargaining task force

President Joe Biden (D) signed the “Executive Order on Worker Organizing and Empowerment” on April 26, creating a task force related to public- and private-sector union organizing. 

About the order

The executive order establishes a task force to “identify executive branch policies, practices, and programs that could be used, consistent with applicable law, to promote [the Biden Administration]’s policy of support for worker power, worker organizing, and collective bargaining.” The order states that the task force “also shall identify statutory, regulatory, or other changes that may be necessary to make policies, practices, and programs more effective means of supporting worker organizing and collective bargaining.”

The order asserts that “[i]n the past few decades, the Federal Government has not used its full authority to promote and implement [the National Labor Relations Act] policy of support for workers organizing unions and bargaining collectively with their employers.”

The task force has 180 days to submit recommendations “to promote worker organizing and collective bargaining in the public and private sectors, and to increase union density.”

Vice President Kamala Harris will chair the 24-member task force, with Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh serving as vice chair. 

The order revokes two executive orders signed by President Donald Trump (R): “Establishing the President’s National Council for the American Worker” (2018) and “Continuing the President’s National Council for the American Worker and the American Workforce Policy Advisory Board” (2020). The council and advisory board were set to terminate in September 2021. 

According to a White House fact sheet on the order, Biden and Harris “believe that the decline of union membership is contributing to serious societal and economic problems in our country,” including “economic inequality, stagnant real wages, and the shrinking of America’s middle class.”

This was the 41st executive order Biden has signed during his time in office.  

Responses

Support

  • Lee Saunders, president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, said, “We commend President Biden for launching this task force to make it easier for workers to organize and join a union. As our nation continues to recover from this pandemic, ensuring that workers have a voice on the job to negotiate for fair wages, safer working conditions and better benefits will be key to building back better.”
  • White House labor advisor Seth Harris said, “In the past we’ve had very good-faith efforts by some presidents to do individual things, like executive order and regulatory actions [to help unions]. The question is, what about a whole-of-government approach? We never sit down and think about what it would be like if the whole government was organized around the principle that worker organizing was a good thing and not a bad thing.”
  • Jared Bernstein, a member of Biden’s Council of Economic Advisers, said, “There is a huge gap between the number of working Americans who want to be represented by unions and have collective bargaining and the number who are in unions. It could make a very big difference in this space to have a president who uses the bully pulpit to make this a front-and-center preference.”

Opposition

  • U.S. Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.), ranking Republican member on the House Education and Labor Committee, said the order “further solidified [Biden’s] cushy relationship with union bosses; the same people responsible for swindling workers’ hard-earned paychecks and pushing radical, unworkable policies that lead to lower economic growth.”
  • National Right to Work Committee President Mark Mix said, “This is yet another move by the Biden White House to give the president’s Big Labor political allies more power at the expense of the rights of rank-and-file workers who overwhelmingly have chosen not to affiliate or associate with a labor union.”
  • Sean Higgins, a research fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, said, “President Biden seems to believe joining a union is an obligation that the federal government must prod workers to do. … This executive order is a harbinger of further aggressive sales tactics from this administration on behalf of its union allies.”

What we’re reading

The big picture

Number of relevant bills by state

We are currently tracking 92 pieces of legislation dealing with public-sector employee union policy. On the map below, a darker shade of green indicates a greater number of relevant bills. Click here for a complete list of all the bills we’re tracking. 

Number of relevant bills by current legislative status

Number of relevant bills by partisan status of sponsor(s) 

Recent legislative actions

Below is a complete list of relevant legislative actions taken since our last issue. 

  • Illinois HB2521: This bill would allow electronic signatures on petitions submitted for selecting an exclusive bargaining representative. It would allow certification elections to be conducted electronically. It would also prohibit an employer from promising or taking action against an employee for participating in a strike. 
    • Democratic sponsorship. 
    • Assigned to Senate Executive Committee May 4. 
  • Oregon SB580: This bill would amend the law’s definition of “employment relations” to include class size and caseload limits as mandatory collective bargaining subjects for school districts.  
    • Democratic sponsorship. 
    • Referred to House Business and Labor Committee May 4.
  • Tennessee SJR0002: A proposed constitutional amendment that would bar any person, corporation, or governmental entity from denying employment due to an individual’s affiliation status with a union or other employee organization.
    • Republican sponsorship. 
    • Signed by speaker of the Senate May 3 and speaker of the House May 4. 



Ballotpedia analysis – net change in state legislative seats during Trump’s presidency

Ballotpedia's Daily Brew

Republicans lost 187 net state legislative seats during the Trump administration

Over the course of Donald Trump’s (R) presidency, Republicans lost 187 net state legislative seats. During all presidencies since 1921, the president’s party has lost a net average of 552 state legislative seats. The net loss of 187 Republican state legislative seats during the Trump administration was the smallest loss of seats for the president’s party since Harry Truman’s (D) presidency, which saw a net loss of 138 Democratic seats. 

In 61 of the 99 state legislative chambers, the Democratic Party held more seats following the 2020 general election than it did after the general election in 2016.

Six state legislative chambers in five states flipped from Republican to Democratic control compared to the start of Trump’s presidency. In four states—Colorado, Maine, New York, and Virginia—this resulted in the creation of Democratic trifectas, where Democrats controlled both chambers as well as the governorship. Republicans did not gain control of any chambers by the end of Trump’s presidency that they did not already control at its start. The Alaska House of Representatives was controlled by a bipartisan coalition throughout Trump’s presidency.

The number of state legislative seats that Democrats held increased in 34 states during Trump’s presidency, either by increasing an already-existing majority or narrowing/flipping a Republican majority. The largest shifts in Democrats’ favor came in Connecticut, Virginia, and Georgia. The number of seats that Republicans held increased in 13 states. The largest shifts in Republicans’ favor came in Kentucky, West Virginia, and Louisiana. There were no net shifts in either legislative chamber in Alaska or Nevada. Nebraska, which has a nonpartisan legislature, was excluded from this analysis.

Two presidents—George H.W. Bush (R) and Ronald Reagan (R)—gained state legislative seats over the course of their presidencies. During the past century, the largest Republican losses occurred under the Herbert Hoover (R) administration with a net loss of 1,662 Republican seats from 1929 to 1933. The largest Democratic losses occurred during Barack Obama’s (D) administration with a net loss of 948 Democratic seats from 2009 to 2017.

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Ballotpedia’s federal judicial vacancy count: 75 open federal judgeships

Earlier this month, we released our monthly federal judicial vacancy count, which found that as of May 1, there were 75 vacancies out of 870 active Article III judicial positions, a total vacancy percentage of 8.6%. Seven of those vacancies were on the U.S. Courts of Appeals, 66 were on U.S. District Courts, and two were on the U.S. Court of International Trade.

So far, President Joe Biden (D)  has nominated 13 individuals to the federal circuit and district courts. None of the nominees have been confirmed. Five of the nominees are awaiting committee hearings. The other eight are awaiting a committee vote.

In comparison with the previous administration, President Donald Trump (R) made his first Article III judicial nomination on January 31, 2017, when he nominated Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court. Trump’s first successful appointment–where the nominee was confirmed–occurred on April 7, 2017, when the Senate confirmed Gorsuch. Outside of the Supreme Court, Trump’s first successful appointment was on May 25, 2017, when Amul Thapar was confirmed to the United States Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit.

Since 1901, the earliest successful Article III appointment was made by President Richard Nixon (R). Nixon appointed a federal district judge by March 1 of his first year in office. Three presidents–Theodore Roosevelt (R), Calvin Coolidge (R), and Gerald Ford (R)–made the fewest with no judicial appointments during their first year in office.

Since Ronald Reagan (R), the average number of federal judges appointed in the president’s first year is 24.

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Cincinnati mayoral election goes to runoff; voters reject one, approve two charter amendments on May 4

The first five days of May have been a busy time of local elections. We spent the beginning part of this week looking at Saturday’s elections – now, let’s review what happened on Tuesday in Cincinnati, the country’s 64th-largest city. 

Cincinnati held municipal elections on May 4, with voters casting ballots in the city’s nonpartisan mayoral primary and deciding three charter amendments. 

Mayor

Hamilton County Clerk of Courts Aftab Pureval and councilman and former mayor David Mann were the top-two finishers among six candidates and will meet in the general election on Nov. 2. Pureval received 39.1% of the vote and Mann received 29.1%. 

Although the elections for and position of the mayor are officially nonpartisan, the candidates running were affiliated with political parties. Both Pureval and Mann are Democrats. The last Republican to serve as mayor was Willis Gradison, who left office in 1971. Mayor John Cranley—who was first elected mayor in 2013 and re-elected in 2017—was not able to run for re-election in 2021 due to term limits.

In addition to the mayoral election on Nov. 2, Cincinnati voters will also elect all nine members of the city council. All council members are selected at large, and each voter can select up to nine candidates, with the top nine finishers elected to council. 

Charter Amendments

Cincinnati voters also decided three charter amendments, approving two of them and rejecting one. The two approved amendments:

  • Issue 1 requires the city solicitor to appoint a special prosecutor to prosecute an action to remove a member of council where a member of the council has been indicted for a felony or a criminal complaint has been filed against a member for charges relating to official conduct. It passed 77% to 23%.
  • Issue 2 provides new mechanisms for removing council members indicted for crimes related to their duties from office, in addition to other ethics-related amendments. Among other provisions, it provides for a pre-conviction suspension of council members indicted for state or federal felonies related to the council member’s duties and the removal of council members upon conviction of or guilty plea. It passed 77% to 23%.

Some background – three Cincinnati city council members were arrested on felony corruption charges in 2020. The charges stemmed from situations where the members allegedly took bribes from developers for city business. A fourth council member was charged with a third-degree felony count of tampering with records in April 2021. 

  • Voters defeated Issue 3, which would have required a permanent $50 million annual contribution of city funds to a Cincinnati Affordable Housing Trust Fund. It would have created a board of private citizens to manage the fund and provided guidelines for what projects could be financed. It was defeated, 73% to 27%.