Kelli Prather, Adam Koehler won’t be in Cincinnati’s mayoral primary, election board rules

And then there were six.
Hamilton County Board of Elections Member Gwen McFarlin and Joseph Mallory confer during the...
Hamilton County Board of Elections Member Gwen McFarlin and Joseph Mallory confer during the Hamilton County Board of Elections meeting on Tuesday, March 2, 2021.(Meg Vogel/The Enquirer)
Updated: Mar. 12, 2021 at 5:58 PM EST
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CINCINNATI (Enquirer) - Two Cincinnati mayoral hopefuls failed on Friday in their fight to get on the primary ballot, according to our media partners at the Enquirer.

After spending almost three hours on Friday combing through dozens of signatures, the Hamilton County Board of Elections found Kelli Prather and Adam Koehler did not have 500 valid signatures each to get on the May 4 primary ballot.

It wasn’t a unanimous vote for Koehler. The four-member board split 3-1, with the two Democratic members of the Hamilton County Board of Elections along with one Republican voting to reject him while one Republican member voted to accept Koehler.

That means the six candidates who will appear on the ballot for Cincinnati mayor are:

  • David Mann.
  • Aftab Pureval.
  • Cecil Thomas.
  • Raffel Prophett.
  • Gavi Begtrup.
  • Herman Najoli.

The six seek to succeed incumbent John Cranley, who is term-limited.

On Friday, Koehler, 43, a tech entrepreneur from Mount Auburn, and Prather, 48, an activist from Madisonville, fought for the inclusion of dozens of more signatures on their mayoral petitions. For Koehler, his lawyer said one page with 36 signatures should count because the circulator made a “technical mistake” of putting down the wrong date.

The four-member Board of Elections voted 3-1 to reject Koehler’s petition. The two Democratic members, Hamilton County Democratic Chairwoman Gwen McFarlin and Joe Mallory, voted to reject, along with Republican Chip Gerhardt. Hamilton County GOP Chairman Alex Triantafilou voted to accept Koehler’s candidacy, saying he believed Koehler was in “substantial compliance.”

Prather submitted three petitions each with 900-1,000 signatures. Each time the board of elections staff found less than 500 signatures.

“It screams of discrimination,” Prather said.

Prather submitted some photocopied sheets of signatures, which board director Sherry Poland said isn’t legal. In the end, the board voted 3-0 to reject Prather’s candidacy, with Mallory saying he wasn’t voting due to a conflict of interest.

“I keep thinking about the right church but the wrong pew,” said board Chairwoman  McFarlin. “The petition were there, but they weren’t complete. I cannot support allowing you to be on the ballot.”

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