CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - Vice Mayor Chris Smitherman announced Tuesday he is running for mayor in 2021.
He filed a form with the Hamilton County Board of Elections earlier this month to change his designation for treasurer so he can legally raise money for the mayor's race, elections officials confirmed Tuesday.
"I am very excited and looking forward to a very competitive race for mayor in 2021," Smitherman, 51, tells FOX19 NOW.
He will run as an Independent, saying he filed so early because "it's the ethically and legally right thing to do."
His wife, Pam, is battling cancer, and he said he also wants her to be part of his campaign.
"It's an opportunity for me to give back to a city that's given me a lot. It's a real mission," he said.
"This is a real opportunity for me to provide some leadership on some key issues in all 52 neighborhoods. That we are really being fair with our capital dollars and out development across our neighborhoods. We can't just make sure certain areas are great and others are not.
"My focus is basic services. These issues aren't sexy but I believe that is what the government should be doing, delivering police and fire services and road repair and doing those things well, making sure we respond to constituency work is really important to me so when there are issues we are responsive.
"I think (current Mayor John Cranley's) direction of keeping the city clean is great. Not just delivering the basic services, but also working hard with the intention to keep our city clean."
Smitherman was first elected as a Charterite to Cincinnati City Council in 2003 and served a two-year term. He was elected as an Independent for the 2011-13 term.
Currently, Smitherman serves as the Chair for the Law and Public Safety Committee and chair of the Economic Growth and Infrastructure.
He also has served as the president of the NAACP Cincinnati Branch.
So far, Smitherman is the only one to file any kind of papers indicating a mayoral run.
But Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld, the top vote-getter in the last two city elections has been ramping up to run.
Like Smitherman, he is term limited from campaigning for council in the next election.
Sittenfeld, a Democrat, has been raising money but has not said why.
He declined to discuss the issue when we contacted him earlier this summer and could not be reached Tuesday because he is traveling out of the country with his family. His spokeswoman declined comment Tuesday.
The Cincinnati Election Commission recently declined to look into a complaint about it, saying they don't have jurisdiction.