Yvette Simpson is on a promising path to becoming Cincinnatti’s first black female mayor. In November, Simpson will run against incumbent and fellow Democrat Mayor John Cranley.
The 39-year-old Cincinatti native grew up in the Lincoln Heights housing projects to a mother with a mental illness and a father with a drug addiction. But hardship didn’t prevent her from graduating from the University of Miami and receiving a law degree. In 2010, she made a successful bid for the Cincinatti City Council and currently serves as the council’s president pro tempore.
Now, she’s ready to take her political career to the next level.
In May, Simpson won in the primaries against Democrat incumbent Mayor John Cranley by 10 percentage points. The sheer proximity between Simpson and the mayoral position is precedent-setting. Cincinatti is one of many cities that have yet to elect a black woman as mayor. In November, Simpson will run against Cranley again to secure the position.
In an interview with The Root, Simpson spoke about her experience as a black woman running for mayor in the town.
“I didn’t know if you could be a good person and be authentic and run for office,” Simpson told the publication. After three years of fellow community leaders insisting she make the run for mayor, she finally gave in. “You do it when you feel like it’s your time. Many women have been unsuccessful in the past, and I know my party was never going to say it was the right time [for me to run]. I know what it’s like to wait for someone to show up for you and that person never comes. But my city deserves better—it had to be me.”
“When I ran and won the first time, we called it the experiment to shock the world,” she continued. “I realized that I’m tough, I’m strong and I can take it. A big part of this job is absolute foolishness.”
She is running on a platform of combatting gun violence, human trafficking, youth recreation and facilitating the reentry process for former offenders. Because of her tough exterior, Simpson’s nickname is “Velvet Hammer.”