Newly elected members create historic city council

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - There are now seven democrats, one independent, and one republican on city council. Five members are African-Americans, along with the mayor and city manager, and the city has elected its first openly gay member. It's an equation that some say adds up to a historic, new day in Cincinnati.

Newly-elected council members Yvette Simpson and P.G. Sittenfield were all the buzz on Wednesday. They ended the day with the hosts of "Sister Speak" on WDBZ. The pair was excited, yet tired, after their big win. They're a part of Cincinnati history. They are members of a council that, for the first time, is predominantly African-Americans.

"People were just ready for a change," said Simpson. "We saw some polls that came out earlier that showed that most people were dissatisfied with council, and that they wanted a change, and I think they saw people working hard to be that change, and wanted to support us."

"I think it's a terrific thing when our government looks like what we look like," said Sittenfeld. "Too often it hasn't so we want city council to look like what the city looks like, and it does right now, and that's a terrific thing"

It's something activists like Tim Sullivan said took work.

He created the group "Stand with the African-American Greater Good" or SWAGG the Vote to engage young people in the political process and make sure issues affecting communities of color are heard. Out of the nine campaigns that the young members worked on, seven of their candidates were elected.

"I think diversity, that's the key of today," said Sullivan. "Make sure that we have representation for the whole community, and with the results from last night, I think the public is really ready for that-- so it's a wonderful thing."

Xavier University's Dr. Gene Beaupre has studied, taught, and run numerous campaigns. He said even he didn't expect this outcome. Beaupre said the issues drove voters to the polls, and they elected members because of their stance on those issues, not their color.

"That's what happened last night," said Dr. Beaupre. "They came out. They didn't just do one thing. They went down the ballot, and they went down it with great deliberateness."

So what do the ousted members of council have to think about the shake up?

In our commitment to balanced news, FOX19 caught up with charterite member Chris Bortz to discuss his concerns over the new super-majority. Bortz said voters made a clear choice but unfortunately the moderate voice was lost.

"They're going to continue to put dollars into an endless bureaucracy that just grows and grows and grows, is never under control, and they're going to raise taxes to pay for it," said Bortz. "I think that's a real concern."

New council members will take office on December 1st. Next year's budget is due by December 31st.

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