Spotlight

Q&A with Cincinnati Vice Mayor David Mann

Conducted January 2014

Q: Sometimes when political leaders leave office and return, they come back with an urgency to do things they didn’t get done before. True or false?

A: Yes. For me, public service is a calling.  My goal is to leave this city a better place for my children and grandchildren, all of whom live in the city.

Q: What’s your vision for the Queen City?

A: As I spent most of 2013 campaigning throughout the city, I found a tale of two cities.  Life is very good for a lot of us, including many who live outside of the city.  At the same time, life is very challenging for thousands, including children, who live in poverty without good employment options and with a much shorter life expectancy than the average.  Far too many young men are killing each other, often in drug-related gun violence, because of few alternatives and poor personal choices.  

I want one Cincinnati, where all citizens have the chance to pursue their dreams, to provide for their families, and to pursue safe and fulfilling lives.  This is a great challenge, but it is my goal on council.

Q: What’s most immediate? What do we need right now?

A: The challenges that confront council in the coming year are not limited to any one issue or set of issues.  But top among them are the following:

Balance the budget and put the city on a financially sustainable course.  

Solve the pension problem.

Resolve to reduce poverty and provide pathways for our very youngest children to succeed in life. 

Q: Longer term, what do we need? Maybe two or three things?

A:  Actually reduce poverty; provide universal quality preschool to three and four year olds; and establish effective pathways from public education to productive careers.  In the process, reduce the obscene unemployment levels, particularly in the African-American community.

Increase the city’s population by continuing the urban renaissance in Over-the-Rhine and downtown and expanding the renaissance to other neighborhoods.

Be smart in choosing which development opportunities to support with city money, with an emphasis on leveraging our public funds toward the projects that provide the greatest return on investment per dollar spent and on job opportunities for our residents.

Q: When you boast to out-of-towners about Cincinnati, what to you say? What makes you proudest? What make us distinctive?

A: We are really quite an old city by America standards with a legacy that continues to this day in our architecture, cultural and sporting traditions.  We were large and vibrant early and have a very rich history and heritage.  We have had tremendous political impact on the country particularly when Ohio was electorally such a dominant state.  We are blessed with organizations and institutions that have been a part of the fabric of the community for a long time.

We have geographic beauty that catches first time visitors by surprise.

We own a railroad right-of-way all the way to Chattanooga and have long served as a gateway to many other parts of the country.

We have a very interesting local political tradition producing political legends like Speaker Nicholas Longworth, the Taft family and even Speaker  Joe Cannon (a graduate of the University of Cincinnati College of Law).  We pioneered the concept of the city manager form of government.

We have more Fortune 500 companies per capita than any city in the country. 

Also, have you heard about this Roman named Cincinnatus?

Q: You have a natural political alliance with both the victor and the defeated in the recent mayor race. Were you happy with the outcome? How’s the working relationship with His Honor the mayor?

A: Indeed.  I have a long relationship with both Roxanne and John, and think highly of both of them.  I told them early on that I would not take a position in their contest.  

I believe Mayor Cranley will do a great job.  We are working together very well.  We share many priorities, and he is committed to an open process of government and frank, civil discourse as we all worry about how to make our city even better.

Q: What’s the weekend like for Vice Mayor Mann? How do you relax?

A: Family, movies, Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Playhouse in the Park, Indian food, running, church, New York Times, reading, “honey do” list, etc.

Q: Favorite place in Cincinnati? Where do you take guests when they visit?

A: First timers are taken to Mt. Adams and Eden Park for the views; our great parks along the riverfront; Contemporary Arts Center; Freedom Center; the Zoo; a baseball game; and one of our favorite restaurants.

Q: What’s next for you politically? Mayor again? Congress? Columbus?

A: Have you noticed my white hair?  I am already at “next” and “last.”

Q: Read any good books lately?

A: I am currently in the middle of The Bully Pulpit by Doris Kearns Goodwin.  I am learning fascinating things about our own William Howard Taft.  Turns out, he was a very affable and well liked person who did not really even want to be President.  He finally got what he wanted when he was made Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.  The book is doubly interesting to me since I had the privilege of serving with his son, Charlie Taft, when I was first on council.

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Cincinnati voters returned David Mann to familiar territory last November: City Hall. Mann is a former city councilman, serving 18 years, including two stints as mayor  (1980 to 1982 and again in 1991). Mann also served a term in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1993-95.  He returns to City Hall as vice mayor. Mann, who was a guest speaker at the Cincinnatus Association's Jan. 14 meeting, answered our questions in advance of that meeting.