By Gregory Korte
The Cincinnati Enquirer
Cincinnati Democrats endorsed two African-American men to fill out their ticket for Cincinnati City Council Saturday, hoping one of them can hold on to the seat being left open by Minette Cooper.
The endorsements of Howard H. Bond, 65, of North Avondale, and Samuel T. Britton, 69, of Madisonville, leave open the possibility that Democrats could endorse a "short ticket" of only seven candidates for nine seats on City Council.
The council has six Democrats, two Republicans and a Charterite.
It also has three African-Americans in a city where four of nine citizens are black. And one of those council members is Cooper, who is leaving because of term limits.
Democrats said maintaining that racial balance is important.
"We want to make sure the people we put on the ticket are 100 percent the best people," said Cincinnati Democratic Committee co-chairwoman Jenny O'Donnell.
Bond is a former school board member and current city park commissioner with a history of political involvement. Most recently, he served on the economic inclusion task force of Mayor Charlie Luken's race relations commission, and chaired the African-American Political Caucus of former Mayor Dwight Tillery to promote candidates in the 2001 campaign.
Britton left the Ohio General Assembly in 2002 after serving eight years in the Ohio House of Representatives. He left because of term limits, and was considered for appointment last month to the City Council seat vacated by Paul Booth.
Both candidates look to make the resolution of the civil rights boycott of Cincinnati a key issue.
Democratic candidates for re-election had already been endorsed in January. They are John Cranley, David Crowley, David Pepper and Alicia Reece. A fifth incumbent, Y. Laketa Cole, was appointed to Booth's seat this month. Her endorsement, formalized Saturday, had been expected.
The council endorsements, though less controversial than the party's school board picks, prompted some political intrigue.
Nathaniel Livingston Jr., a Democratic precinct committeeman from Avondale who is a leader of one of two boycott groups calling itself the Coalition for a Just Cincinnati, challenged the party's decision to give incumbents the endorsement without interviewing them - even though school board incumbents were required to re-interview. He wanted the party to quiz candidates on their "racial attitudes and their racism."
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