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Cincinnati Council Approves SORTA Board Appointment After Debate

Michael Keating
/
WVXU

Cincinnati Council spent a lot of time Wednesday discussing a mayoral appointment to the Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority (SORTA) Board. Normally such appointments are handled with no discussion.

Mayor Cranley's selection of Heidi Black was eventually confirmed by a 7-2 vote. 

Council Member Yvette Simpson was opposed because she said Black is not a regular transit user.

"I actually think it should be a practice as much as we can to have individuals on the SORTA board who are regular transit users, who are transit workers, or have direct transit experience particularly because right now transit is such an important issue in our community and our region," Simpson said.

Besides Simpson, Council Member Chris Seelbach also voted against Black's confirmation.

Black replaces a SORTA board member who was a regular bus rider. Cranley defended his selection saying Black uses Metro buses and the streetcar.  

Cranley said Black's appointment comes at an important time for the transit agency.

"I want to make sure that as we look to the future of SORTA, we have people who understand that this is about getting people from their homes and to their jobs and back home again," Cranley said. "And focused on those real issues that will make an impact on people's lives."

Politics is also likely involved in the debate. Black is married to Cranley's campaign manager, Jay Kincaid.  One of the mayor's opponents in the May primary is Simpson.

Kinkaid, through a text, said they are a one-car family and his wife "regularly uses the streetcar and bus."

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Jay Hanselman brings more than 10 years experience as a news anchor and reporter to 91.7 WVXU. He came to WVXU from WNKU, where he hosted the local broadcast of All Things Considered. Hanselman has been recognized for his reporting by the Kentucky AP Broadcasters Association, the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists, and the Ohio AP Broadcasters.