Cincinnatians, over the course of our great city’s existence, we have had sixty-nine mayors. Each passing of the baton of leadership, from one mayor to the next one, has given us moments of tremendous significance for the citizens of Cincinnati. Five moments have been especially impactful and noteworthy. These are what we can name the ‘Mayor Firsts’ and can provide us with our five marks of a great M.A.Y.O.R. for the City of Cincinnati:
M — Models the Way
In 1802, David Ziegler became the first person to receive the baton of mayor of Cincinnati from the public and served for one full year. He was born in Heidelberg, Germany in 1748 and emigrated to the US in 1775. He initially settled in Pennsylvania but moved to Cincinnati in the mid-1790s to become a farmer. When Cincinnati was incorporated in 1802, he was elected ‘President of Council’ and became the first immigrant to serve as mayor of this great city. Ziegler modeled the way for 68 other individuals who have served as mayor in his footsteps. Incidentally, Lucius Cincinnatus, whom the city is named after, was also a farmer who stepped up to lead the City of Rome in a battle against invaders then relinquished power six months later. His statue and story can be found at Yeatman’s Cove in Downtown Cincinnati. If elected, I will continue to model the way of a great mayor. See our announcement video recorded by the statue of Cincinnatus in December 2020: Najoli for Mayor.
A — Authentic Unifier
In 1900, Julius Fleischmann became the youngest person to receive the baton of mayor of Cincinnati at the age of 28 years. This handoff was especially important because it signified the turn of the twentieth century. In this passing of the baton, our city started off the twentieth century on the right side of history — acknowledging that youth can excel as leaders. Fleischmann was an avid businessman and sportsman. He promoted education for youth, and parks for families (See video of our policy for Students and Families). Fleischmann was a Republican but was preceded and then succeeded by Democratic mayors. This demonstrates our city’s efforts in finding that middle ground between political parties. As an Independent mayor, I will continually seek to unify the different political parties and ideological spectrums to bring all citizens of Cincinnati to the table. I am completely Independent of any affiliation and best positioned to be the authentic unifier that our city needs in this most consequential moment. See our unity video from the 2020 run for Hamilton County Commissioner here: Radical Middle.
Y — Yields the Point
In 1954, Dorothy N. Dolbey became the first female to receive the baton of mayor of Cincinnati. This passing of the baton was a powerful symbol. It had been 67 years since the United States saw its first ever elected female mayor — Susanna Salter of Argonia, Kansas in 1887. Through this handoff of the baton, the City of Cincinnati demonstrated that it was in step with the cause for women. The political forces of the city had to yield the point that leadership could be exercised by all persons — male or female. Dorothy served as mayor for six months and remains a powerful symbol for our city’s progress toward a more equitable society. As a facilitator of adult education, I have learned how to exercise good judgement and yield the point when necessary. I have had learners in my classes who have had numerous years of real-world experience and cherished their input to our academic engagements. When I am wrong, I will admit it and yield the point. I have coached many on how to learn, unlearn, and relearn. I have worked with youth, men, and women to make a difference in a variety of settings where I had to yield the point. See my video on Learning, Unlearning, and Relearning at Cincinnati Museum Center here: Intern Development.
O — Others-Oriented
In 2006, Mark Mallory was the first African-American directly elected by the public to be mayor of Cincinnati. This baton handoff was significant because it showed an ability and readiness to look outside of City Council for a mayor. The first African-American mayor to serve the city though was Theodore Berry, who was elected by City Council in 1972 and served for one term (four years). Both Mallory and Berry were veterans of politics by the time they served as mayor. The city’s passing of the baton to Berry was significant as it showed a readiness to include the Black community in the share of power whereas the passing of the baton to Mallory showed a readiness to embrace a non-city council politician. As a city, we must be ‘others-oriented’ — able to look outside of our own circles for fresh, new, and oftentimes varied ways of accomplishing our goals. In my professional life, I have always been ‘others-oriented’ and have listened to the voices of those who think differently. As mayor of Cincinnati, I will continue to be a champion for other people. In 2015, I was received the Forty Under 40 award from the Cincinnati Business Courier for my work in serving homeless men in Cincinnati. In 2012, I received the Angels Among Us award from my employer at that time for serving individuals with different abilities. See my 2012 award video here: Angels Among Us.
R — Reawakens Spirit
In 2021, we have a chance for another ‘Mayor First’. I am an educator with a doctoral degree in organizational leadership, a complete outsider of politics who has never held elected office, and a passionate youth sports coach on the Westside. I coached soccer at St. William and St’ Lawrence Schools, basketball at St. William, and Track/Field at St. Catherine. For two seasons, I also coached soccer for West End Pride — a group of youth teams that FC Cincinnati is mentoring in the West End. I enjoy reawakening spirits. See our leadership spirit video here: Leadership Spirit and our reawakening sweat video here: Two Hundred Thirty Miles.
Cincinnatians, this year have a chance to pass the baton wisely again. We need an educator as mayor to challenge and empower leaders to do their homework. We need an outsider of politics to spearhead a clean break from the culture of corruption at City Hall. We need a coach who is a people person eager to model that government is of the people, by the people, and for the people. I am running for all Cincinnatians. In this year 2021, I am ready to take this baton and win for Cincinnati. Fellow Cincinnatians, vote Najoli for Mayor. In every aspect of my life, I have demonstrated that I have the five marks of a great mayor. I look forward to serving as your 70th mayor. Thank you in advance for trusting me to reach for the baton in a firm, seamless grip and carry it forward for this great city. See my gratitude video here: Thank You Queen City.