A son of immigrants, the half-Indian, half-Tibetan Pureval becomes the first Asian American mayor of Ohio city
In a historic win, Indian American lawyer Aftab Pureval, 39, has been elected mayor of Cincinnati, Ohio, in Tuesday’s election to become the first Asian American chosen to lead the city.
Son of an Indian father and a Tibetan mother, Pureval defeated David Mann, a city councilor and fellow Democrat who previously served as mayor and in Congress, 66% to 34% with all precincts counted, NBC News reported citing unofficial results.
Pureval will succeed term-limited Mayor John Cranley, who is seeking Ohio’s Democratic nomination for governor in 2022.
“Words can’t express how honored and excited I am to be the next Mayor of Cincinnati,” Pureval said in a tweet late Tuesday. “Tonight, we made history! Let’s get to work!”
He spoke in his acceptance speech about his parents’ coming to the US as refugees from India in search of a better life for him and his brother.
“Because of that incredible decision, my family went from refugees to now the next mayor of Cincinnati,” Pureval said. “Folks, that story only happens here in Cincinnati.”
“Cincinnati is a place where no matter what you look like, where you’re from, or how much money you have if you come here and work hard, you can achieve your dreams. I achieved mine. Thank you so much.”
Mann conceded the race to Pureval at 10 p.m. and congratulated him on his win.
“Congratulations to Aftab on his well-deserved victory. I have spoken with him and wish him nothing but the best, and it has been the honor of my lifetime to serve this community as a councilman, mayor, and member of congress throughout my career. Thank you, Cincinnati!” Mann tweeted.
Viewed as a rising political star in the state, Pureval was elected clerk of courts in 2016 after running ads with a stuffed duck quacking his name — “Aftab!” — in a campaign reminiscent of the old Aflac insurance commercials, NBC reported.
Pureval, a former federal prosecutor and in-house attorney for Cincinnati-based Procter & Gamble, was a prized recruit for a competitive House seat in 2018 but lost to Rep. Steve Chabot, a long-entrenched Republican.
Before launching his mayoral campaign, he expressed interest in running for the seat that Republican Sen. Rob Portman is giving up next year. During their final debate last month, Pureval pledged to serve a full four-year term as mayor.
Tuesday’s election followed a nonpartisan September primary in which Pureval and Mann were the top two finishers, setting up a stark generational clash in the runoff.
Although they are both Democrats, the 82-year-old Mann ran to Pureval’s right on public safety issues, airing ads that accused his rival of “siding with activists who want to defund the police.”
Pureval, in an interview with Cleveland.com and The Plain Dealer, decried the spot as a false, Republican-style attack.
Pureval’s plan, the news outlet noted, calls for funding several public safety programs. The Cincinnati Enquirer also found factual problems with Mann’s ad.