Roxanne Qualls Nominated for Transit Board
A familiar face to many Cincinnatians has been nominated to fill a vacancy on the mass transit board that oversees the Metro bus system, and some observers wonder if it’s a sign that the person might jump back into politics in the future.
Mayor Mark Mallory has selected former Mayor Roxanne Qualls to join the board of trustees that govern the Southwestern Ohio Regional Transit Authority (SORTA). Qualls served as mayor from 1993-99, under a system that awarded the mayor’s seat to the top vote-getter in the at-large city council race. She left politics seven years ago, when term limits forced her from office.
Since that time Qualls moved to Boston for a few years to teach and earn a master’s degree at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. Upon returning to Cincinnati in 2003, she began teaching an executive management course in Northern Kentucky University’s Political Science Department.
Qualls made headlines in 2004 when she made an early endorsement in the following year’s mayoral race by throwing her support behind Mallory, over incumbent Mayor Charlie Luken. Luken eventually chose not to seek re-election. Some pundits see Mallory’s nomination of Qualls as payback for her support.
Hamilton County Commissioners make the final decision on the city’s nominees to the SORTA board, although the vote typically is perfunctory and most nominees are approved. A decision isn’t expected until early next month, when the next commission takes office.
In 1998, Qualls ran against U.S. Rep. Steve Chabot, a Republican, for the 1st District Congressional seat. She lost by just six percentage points, one of Chabot’s closest challenges ever.
Before beginning her political career in 1991 as a city councilwoman, Qualls was active in her North Avondale neighborhood and worked on environmental issues for Ohio Citizen Action.
— Kevin Osborne