Tuesday, December 2, 2003

Inauguration Day belongs to two newcomers

By Gregory Korte
The Cincinnati Enquirer

DOWNTOWN - If you want to know how newly elected councilmen Sam Malone and Christopher Smitherman will govern, take note of who stood behind them as they took the oath of office.

For Malone, a Republican, it was U.S. Rep. Steve Chabot and former Councilman Charlie Winburn, two of the most socially conservative members to ever serve on Cincinnati City Council.

Cincinnati City Councilman John Cranley rubs elbows with members of the public before the swearing-in ceremony.
(Steven M. Herppich photo)
For Smitherman, a Charterite, it was former Councilwomen Bobbie Sterne, a champion of environmental causes, and Marian Spencer, a longtime civil rights activist.

Inauguration Day for the 39th Cincinnati City Council belonged to the two new councilmen, but it was Smitherman's 94-year-old grandmother who stole the show.

"He always told us, 'Think big, and your deeds will grow. Think small, and you'll fall behind,'" Mozell Flowers said of her grandson the councilman. "Think that you can, and you will. It's all in a state of mind."

Mayor Charlie Luken had to make a special exception to the council rules to allow her to speak. Hers was the only speech that got a standing ovation.

The swearing-in celebration was tempered by a solemn tone, with council members mindful of the tensions following the death of a 41-year-old Northside man during a police arrest Sunday.

Luken asked for a moment of silence for Nathaniel Jones' family, the six officers involved in the incident, and for "unity, togetherness, brotherhood and sisterhood in our great city."

Three council members - Smitherman and Democrats David Crowley and John Cranley - used the occasion to argue passionately for the repeal of Article XII from the city's charter.

The 1993 charter amendment prohibits the council from enacting a gay rights ordinance.


E-mail gkorte@enquirer.com

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