Ohio Mayors Alliance Previews New “Strong Cities for a Stronger Ohio” Initiative

December 17, 2021

Columbus, OH – The Ohio Mayors Alliance previewed a new initiative focused on promoting the value and importance of Ohio cities to state lawmakers. The group also welcomed six newly elected mayors and two new member cities to its bipartisan coalition, including the City of Cleveland.

“We are thrilled to welcome this new bipartisan class of mayors to the Ohio Mayors Alliance,” said Columbus Mayor Andrew J. Ginther. “Our cities are so important to the health and vibrancy of Ohio. We know this new class of diverse, bipartisan leaders are going to be great additions to our coalition and our collective advocacy efforts.”

The new mayors are Cincinnati Mayor-Elect Aftab Pureval, Cleveland Heights Mayor-Elect Kahlil Seren, Dayton Mayor-Elect Jeffrey Mims Jr., Fairfield Mayor-Elect Mitch Rhodus, Kettering Mayor-Elect Peggy Lehner, and Lima Mayor Sharetta Smith. The new members of the Ohio Mayors Alliance are Cleveland Mayor-Elect Justin Bibb and Huber Heights Mayor Jeff Gore. In total, there are five new Democratic mayors and three new Republican Mayors.

“With new leadership comes new ideas. We’re very excited to work with this great group of mayors who represent different parties and different parts of the state,” said Findlay Mayor Christina Muryn. “We are also excited to have their voices at the table as we advocate for our communities and promote the economic value and importance of Ohio’s cities.”

The Ohio Mayors Alliance also previewed a new initiative focused on promoting the value and importance of Ohio’s cities to state lawmakers. The Strong Cities for a Stronger Ohio initiative will focus on the importance of cities to Ohio’s regional and statewide economies. The initiative will promote a shared policy and legislative agenda among Ohio’s cities, building stronger partnerships with business and other groups, and communications to promote Ohio’s cities.

“Ohio’s cities have tremendous opportunities ahead to make meaningful and potentially transformative changes to our communities with the American Rescue Plan funds and through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill,” said Youngstown Mayor Tito Brown.

Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan noted that the Ohio Mayors Alliance is preparing a report to summarize and highlight the ARP investments that their cities are making. “These one-time federal investments into our communities have huge potential, but we are also concerned about the long-term impacts of remote working on municipal tax revenue and other post-pandemic effects,” he added.

Earlier this year, the Ohio Mayors Alliance commissioned a study to better understand the long-term impacts of remote working on municipal tax revenue. The report showed that as much as one-third of the workforce could continue working from home into the future and that shift could result in some cities losing up to 17 percent of municipal tax revenue.

“As a part of our Strong Cities for a Stronger Ohio initiative, we are also focusing on building stronger partnerships across the state with local government partners, business groups, and education leaders,” said Lancaster Mayor David Scheffler. “We are looking forward to bringing together mayors and school superintendents this year to identify ways we can support high-quality education and career readiness.”

“We have also been working closely with our law enforcement partners through the Mayors and Police Chiefs Leadership Committee,” said Parma Mayor Tim DeGeeter. “We look forward to continuing this partnership into next year and working on issues that will keep our communities safe and strong.”

Kettering Mayor Don Patterson, who will be succeeded by former state lawmaker, Mayor-elect Peggy Lehner, closed at the press conference by urging the mayors to continue the important bipartisan spirit of this organization. “The Ohio Mayors Alliance is an important example of bipartisan leadership, which we need right now more than ever. Together, we face common challenges and together we will continue to find solutions to improve our communities.”

The Ohio Mayors Alliance is a bipartisan coalition of mayors in Ohio’s 30 largest cities. For more information, please visit www.OhioMayorsAlliance.org.

###

A recording of the full press conference can be found here.

Background on new Ohio Mayors Alliance Members:

  • Cleveland Mayor-elect Justin Bibb – Previously worked with mayors, business leaders and community organizations across the country as the Chief Strategy Officer of Urbanova, an innovative start-up that leads new initiatives to make cities safer, healthier and more resilient.  Justin is a proud son of Cleveland who has long advocated for change and reform in education, transit and criminal justice.
  • Huber Heights Mayor Jeff Gore – Became mayor of Huber Heights in 2018, running on a vision of economic development and growth for Huber Heights. Gore teaches social studies at Wayne High School. Prior to receiving his master’s in education, he worked several years in the private industry in financial services. He and his wife have three children and two grandchildren.
  • Kettering Mayor-elect Peggy Lehner – Served in the Ohio House of Representatives and in the Ohio Senate since 2009, representing Montgomery County. Prior to that, she served 10 years as a member of Kettering City Council, during which she was chosen as vice mayor and was appointed to the Kettering Development Corporation.
  • Dayton Mayor-elect Jeffery Mims – Was elected to the Dayton City Commission in 2014 and served as the Third District Representative for the Ohio School Board and is past president of the Dayton Board of Education, after retiring from Dayton Public Schools with more than 35 years of service.
  • Cincinnati Mayor-elect Aftab Pureval – Most recently served as Hamilton County Clerk of Courts. Prior to this position, he worked as Special Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Department of Justice and in-house counsel at Procter & Gamble. He currently lives in downtown Cincinnati with his wife and child.
  • Fairfield Mayor-elect Mitch Rhodus – Served two consecutive, four-year terms on Fairfield City Council, leaving office in December 2011. He also served 12 years on the Fairfield Parks and Recreation board and nine years on the Fairfield Planning Commission. Rhodus owns a global promotional product company doing business as Halo Branded Solutions.
  • Cleveland Heights Mayor-elect Kahlil Seren – Was elected to serve as Cleveland Heights’ first directly elected mayor. Seren has served on City Council since 2015, and was chosen to be Vice Mayor/Council Vice President and Chair of the Administrative Services Committee in January 2020. Seren previously served as a Policy Advisor for Cuyahoga County Council.
  • Lima Mayor Sharetta Smith – Has enjoyed a successful career in public service as a lawyer, judicial magistrate, the City of Lima’s Chief of Staff, and has worked in the private sector managing global purchasing and logistics contracts for an electrical and mechanical distributor servicing international companies such as Procter & Gamble and International Paper.