No black candidate yet for Cincinnati mayor

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CINCINNATI (AP) -- The race to succeed Cincinnati's first directly elected black mayor so far has no black candidates.

With Mark Mallory not allowed to seek re-election to a third, four-year term because of term limits, a city with a majority-minority population currently appears likely to elect a white mayor in November.

The two leading candidates are former city councilman John Cranley and Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls, a former mayor. Both have strong vote-getting records and fundraising ability, which appears to be deterring some potential candidates.

The Cincinnati Enquirer reports (http://cin.ci/XDKzLf ) that some political observers find it concerning that no black contenders have stepped forward.

Xavier University political scientist Gene Beaupre is "amazed and disappointed" that no black candidate is running.

"You are the city's leader. You are its spokesman. You are its representative," Beaupre said.

The 2010 Census showed Cincinnati's white population was under 50 percent, with African-Americans at 45 percent and Hispanics and Asians totaling 5 percent.

But some black political veterans say it's not a big worry. They just want to have a mayor who will represent the diverse city well and responsively.

"It's all about the candidate, regardless of their color," said Dwight Tillery, a black community leader who in 1991 became mayor as the leading vote-getter among council candidates on the ballot. Before that system, two other black council members were chosen mayor by fellow council members.

Cincinnati voters in 2011 elected a black city council majority, which included three Democrats, one Republican and one Independent. The city manager, police chief and several other key city officials are also black.

Councilman Wendell Young, who is black, said he'd vote for the best mayoral candidate, "even if he or she was polka-dotted."

Councilman Cecil Thomas, a black former police officer, could still join the race. But he recently told The Enquirer he is eyeing a possible state Senate run.

"A bigger question is, who really runs Cincinnati?" said Iris Roley, a business owner. "Is it the people we elect to office, or forces greater than them, who are all white?"

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Information from: The Cincinnati Enquirer, http://www.enquirer.com