Cincinnati defeats Issue 48 and votes a younger, more progressive city council into office

For the second time in three years rail transit advocates scored a major political victory in November. This year’s victory came in the form of the 51.5% to 48.5% defeat of Issue 48 which would have banned all investments in rail transportation for the next decade.

The defeat of Issue 48 coincided with the overhaul of Cincinnati’s city council. The new council includes a 7-2 majority in favor of the Cincinnati Streetcar (previously 4-4-1), and an 8-1 progressive voting block after four Republicans were not reelected. Also striking with new council is that the three brand new members are all Democrats and all 32-years-old or younger.

Still, the news of the day was the repeated defeat of a measure intended on stopping Cincinnati from building a modern streetcar line and planning a comprehensive regional light rail system. Construction of the Midwest’s first modern streetcar system is now scheduled to commence in the coming months.

UrbanCincy will provide more in-depth updates on the 2011 election results in the coming days, but for now enjoy this exclusive footage from the Cincinnati Streetcar celebration at Arnold’s Bar & Grill last night.

  • It should be noted that PG Sittenfeld is against the Cincinnati Streetcar. He was anti-Issue 48 due to the rail implications, but is not for the streetcar project. This makes the pro-streetcar council members only a 6-3 majority (still impressive).

  • More importantly we got rid of deadwood on council, no more Lippert fighting for Warren and Butler counties interests.

  • The highlight of the evening was Mayor Mallory singing Happy Birthday.

  • Ben, I’m curious why you say Sittenfeld is against the streetcar. In every quote I’ve even read from him, he’s essentially said, “I have no position, I will uphold the decision of the voters.”

  • In regards to PG Sittenfeld, I have spoken with a couple of people who have cornered him on his streetcar position and his response is that he is against the “current” Cincinnati Streetcar plan (at least one of them dropped support for PG after they confronted him on his stance). He is so wishy-washy on pretty much all issues that it is really hard to consider him a supporter of anything which is really why I wanted to clarify that it would be a mistake to assume a “7-2 majority in favor of the Cincinnati Streetcar”.

  • Aaron

    Though I moved away from Cincinnati almost three years ago after graduating from college, has remained a connecting link to the hometown that I love and claim. I am currently living in Portland, OR and know first hand the devastating effects that issue 48 would hold if it had passed and I am filled with a sense of pride to know that those I consider fellow Cincinnatians worked so hard for the future of our community. All I can say is thank you!

  • Nathan Strieter

    The streetcar is only part of a larger transit network for the future of Cincinnati.

    Randy- you must have loved writing this article, we all appreciate the information that urbancincy continues to provide to all Cincinnatians even those of us who have moved.

  • Matt

    This is great news. A step forward for the city.

  • Congrats!

  • Such a great day for all of us… and for you, especially, Randy. We all know how committed you’ve been to progressing the city’s transportation network via UrbanCincy. (@Jenny: Maybe the song was a late tribute to Randy? 😉

    But Mallory’s right–there’s still work to do. Don’t forget the subway was killed AFTER construction started, and this close vote shows there’s still an opportunity for opponents to rally voters against it. Construction needs to begin ASAP, and we NEED to show the city that the streetcar will be successful, get riders, and grow business in the city.

    On another note, like a few others I disagree on a couple numbers. The streetcar support on council is 6-2-1, with PG neutral at best. THREE of 4 Republicans lost. (Bortz is not a Republican.) And who are you counting as the 8th progressive? Surely not Smitherman?

  • There is still a lot of work that is yet to be done. But you’re right Nathan, after working to advance the issue of rail transit in Cincinnati since 2002 I can tell you that I was more than thrilled to see the results.

    With that said, the real credit goes to John Schneider and the team of dedicated volunteers and advocates that have supported Mayor Mallory and Cincinnatians for Progress over recent years. Without John Schneider’s vision, Cincinnati would not be where it is today.

  • michael donahue

    Recently returned fron a week in Norfolk, VA to spend Thanksgiving with my kids. Norfolk’s light rail, The Tide, is alive and well. It’s operating revenues are increasing steadily as people become used to its convenience. I have an editorial comment from the Virginian Pilot of 11/25 that I would like to get to somebody who is iinvolved in the light rail situation. The situation in Norfolk (or Hampton Roads if you like) seems to be very similar to that here in Cincy. If they can do it, so can we!