Sunday, October 24, 1999


Integrity, leadership are high on our list

        During the past month, members of the Cincinnati Enquirer editorial board have interviewed two dozen candidates for Cincinnati City Council and the Cincinnati Public Schools board. We try to ask the kinds of questions that voters would ask, if they had the time and access to sit down with all of the candidates.

        We try to assess candidates' knowledge of issues and government, their attitude about public service, their positions on specific issues, their political philosophy and the contributions they would make.

        When the interviews are done, board members meet to compare notes and impressions, to select our choices for endorsements.

        In city council races, political affiliation is less important than finding trsutworthy leaders with integrity who genuinely care about the city and understand the role of council members. We also try to endorse candidates who share our agenda: better regional cooperation and more efficient and user-friendly city government.

        Some candidates are running for the first time, with no public record to evaluate. But in many cases, we know the candidates well, from previous campaigns or their public record. That applies to three incumbents and some of the challengers in the city council race:

        • Paul Booth (D) was appointed to fill the remainder of the term of Dwight Tillery, who resigned from council. Mr. Booth has been a good replacement — moderate, likeable, reasonable and polished. However, he has remained somewhat blurry around the edges. His residency problems amplified the concern that he is hard to pin down. Mr. Booth has the potential to be a valuable member of council, but he needs to emerge with his own clear identity.

        • Jeanette Cissell (R) has done some good things in two terms on council, but lacks focus and confidence. She spends far too much time with her finger in the breeze, worrying about political fallout. Her votes are unpredictable and occasionally unfathomable.

        • Minette Cooper (D) has been the ATM on council for every neighborhood group or political operative who comes seeking a cash handout. Her leadership of the finance committee detoured responsible review of the budget and initiated an embarrassing spending spree. Her defense is that pork is justified as long as it is “something people need, want or benefit from.”

        That can apply to any silly idea — and Mrs. Cooper made sure it did.

        • Forrest Buckley is a straight-forward and likeable candidate who probably would not engage in the kind of maneuvering that has crippled council for years. But we fear that his support for and from city unions could obstruct the kind of good-government overhaul that is needed at City Hall.

        Chris Monzel (R) and Jane Anderson (D) were also leaders among the newcomers.

        Ken Anderson (R) and Kaye Britton (D) could make good council members, but they are not ready to get to work immediately without time to get adjusted and learn more about city government and the issues they would be voting on.

        Theo Barnes is a friendly, likeable fellow who has made a hobby of running for council, without making any definite plans of what to do if he gets there.

        Sam Malone and Charlie Gardner did not respond to our invitations for interviews.

        Cincinnati needs a working coalition now, not weeks, months or years from now. We need a team that represents the divers voices of our community, one that mixes experience with enthusiasm.

        Our endorsements are not meant as predictions of who will get elected. We choose the people we think should be elected — and we hope our choices help voters make theirs.

Enquirer endorsements for Cincinnati city council
Enquirer endorsements for Cincinnati school board

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