Christopher Smitherman

Christopher E.C. Smitherman (born July 16, 1967) is an American politician and businessman serving as the Vice Mayor of Cincinnati, Ohio. An Independent, Smitherman is currently a member of the Cincinnati City Council and the Cincinnati Planning Commission. Smitherman is the former president of the Cincinnati NAACP, serving from April 2007 to January 2014.[1] Since 2013, Smitherman has chaired the Law and Public Safety Committee, giving him jurisdiction to oversee all city issues related to Police, Fire, Safety Policies, Citizen Complaint Authority, Liquor Licenses, and Public Services.[2]

Christopher Smitherman
Christopher Smitherman Portrait.jpg
Vice Mayor of the City of Cincinnati
Assumed office
January 2, 2018
Preceded byDavid S. Mann
Member of Cincinnati City Council
Assumed office
December 1, 2011
In office
December 1, 2003 – December 1, 2005
Chair of the Law and Public Safety Committee
Assumed office
December 1, 2013
Preceded byCecil Thomas
Member of the Cincinnati Planning Commission
Assumed office
January 2, 2018
President of the Cincinnati NAACP
In office
April 2007 – January 1, 2014
Preceded byIshtnn Morton
Succeeded byRobert Richardson Sr.
Personal details
Christopher E.C. Smitherman

(1967-07-16) July 16, 1967 (age 54)
Cincinnati, Ohio, U.S.
Political partyIndependent
Spouse(s)Pamela M.T. Smitherman (married 1990; death 2019)
Alma materBowling Green State University
The Ohio State University
School for Creative and Performing Arts
WebsiteOfficial city website

Background and educationEdit

Christopher Smitherman delivers the keynote address at SCPA's graduation on May 20, 2019.

Early lifeEdit

Smitherman was born on July 16, 1967, in Cincinnati, Ohio. His father, Dr. Herbert Smitherman, was a chemist and the first African-American with a PhD hired at Procter & Gamble (P&G). His mother, Mrs. Barbara Smitherman, was a teacher and administrator at Cincinnati Public Schools.[3] Smitherman has five siblings – one sister and four brothers.[4]


Raised Catholic, Smitherman attended St. Mark Elementary for primary school. Smitherman then became a product of Cincinnati Public Schools (CPS), attending the School for Creative and Performing Arts (SCPA) in Cincinnati, Ohio. After graduating, Smitherman attended The Ohio State University (OSU) where he earned a bachelor's degree in criminal justice. After completing his undergraduate program, Smitherman moved to Bowling Green, Ohio, to attend Bowling Green State University (BGSU) where he obtained a master's degree in counseling. It was at BGSU that Smitherman met his wife, Pamela. Throughout his time in college, Smitherman worked as a resident advisor (RA) and, in 1990, Smitherman accepted full-time employment as a hall manager at BGSU. While studying for his master's, Smitherman began hosting a workshop called "Let's Talk About Race."[5]


Smitherman is a Financial Planner and small business owner. He has owned and operated his financial planning practice since returning to Cincinnati in 1997. In 2009, Smitherman purchased the old Bond Hill Library and relocated his financial planning office to the building located in Bond Hill, Cincinnati.[6] As a financial planner, Smitherman focuses on helping his clients gain wealth through systematic savings, life insurance, and estate planning.[7]

Christopher and Pamela Smitherman in January 2014

Family lifeEdit

Pamela M.T. and Christopher E.C. Smitherman married in 1990 and, in 1997, returned to Cincinnati and settled in the neighborhood of North Avondale. Together, they raised five children – four boys and one girl - all products of Cincinnati Public Schools.

On January 15, 2019, Smitherman's wife, Pamela M.T. Smitherman, died after a two-year battle with breast cancer and an autoimmune disease.[8] Pamela Smitherman was an educator at Cincinnati Public Schools and left behind her husband and five children.[9]

Political careerEdit

Cincinnati City CouncilEdit

2003 - 2005Edit

2003 Cincinnati City Council Election Results

Winning Candidates

Losing Candidates

  • Damon Lynch III (I): 21,764
  • Leslie Ghiz (R): 19,916
  • Chris Monzel (R): 19,197
  • Barbara W. Trauth: 17,480
  • John Connelly: 14,047
  • Pete Witte: 13,479
  • Terry Deters: 11,889
  • John F. Schlagetter (C): 11,420
  • Tom Jones: 10,441
  • Samuel T. Britton: 9,778
  • Howard H. Bond: 8,260
  • Nick Spencer (C): 7,378
  • Marilyn Hyland: 5,864
  • Brian Garry (G): 5,504
  • Eric Wilson: 2,686
  • Glenn O. Givens Sr.: 2,327
  • Larry J. Frazier: 2,323
Smitherman speaking at Elder High School in March 2018

Smitherman was elected to Cincinnati City Council on November 4, 2003, as a member of the Charter Committee. Smitherman ran on a platform of fiscal responsibility, racial reconciliation, improved community-police relations, and improved transportation and employment opportunities. During his first term on council, Smitherman served as the vice-chair of the Arts & Culture Committee. He also served on the Law and Public Safety Committee, Neighborhood and Public Services Committee, the Community Development Committee, and the Education & Intergovernmental Affairs Committee.[11] During his term, Smitherman focused on neighborhood improvements including authoring a motion to allow part of drug-related dollars seized by police to be returned to the affected community. He introduced motions to pioneer regional economic cooperation via Joint Economic Development Districts (JEDD) and Cooperative Economic Development Agreements (CEDA). Smitherman worked to firm up the city's working capital fund and also played a leading role in ending Fire Department brownouts.[12] Smitherman did not win reelection in 2005.[13]

2011 - 2013Edit

2011 Cincinnati City Council Election Results

Winning Candidates

Losing Candidates

  • Chris Bortz (C): 22,044
  • Kevin Flynn (C): 21,828
  • Amy Murray (R): 21,433
  • Leslie Ghiz (R): 20,719
  • Wayne Lippert (R): 18,397
  • Jason Riveiro (D): 18,174
  • Mike Allen (I) 16,598
  • Nicholas Hollan (D): 14,628
  • Catherine Smith Mills (R): 13,513
  • Pat McCollum (I): 6,180
  • Kathy Atkinson (I): 5,012
  • Jacqueline Allen (I): 4,555
  • Sandra Queen Noble (I): 2,726
  • Orlando Welborn (I): 33

On November 8, 2011, Smitherman was elected for a second time to Cincinnati City Council after receiving 23,760 votes in the at-large general election.[14] Smitherman ran as an Independent politician whose platform was a balanced budget, proper funding for police and fire, and fixing the city's pension.[15] Smitherman was sworn in for a two-year term on December 1, 2011.

2013 - 2017Edit

2013 Cincinnati City Council Election Results

Winning Candidates

Losing Candidates

  • Laure Quinlivan (D): 21,079
  • Greg Landsman (C, D): 19,619
  • Michelle Dillingham (D): 19,143
  • Pam Thomas (D): 18,499
  • Vanessa White (C): 16,892
  • Sam Malone (R): 16,462
  • Mellisa Wegman (R): 9,942
  • Shawn Butler (D): 9,788
  • Mike Moroski (I): 8,688
  • Angela Beamon (I): 7,943
  • Kevin Johnson (I): 6,647
  • Timothy Joseph Dorsbrusch (I): 4,006

On November 5, 2013, Smitherman was reelected to Cincinnati City Council with 24,125 votes. Having run as an Independent, Smitherman did not receive the endorsement of any major party. He ran on a platform of balancing the budget, delivering basic services, and solving the Cincinnati Pension crisis.[16] During this same election, John Cranley defeated incumbent Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls to become the Mayor of Cincinnati.[17] Cranley appointed Smitherman as the Chair of the Law and Public Safety Committee, giving him jurisdiction to oversee all city issues related to Police; Fire; Safety Policies; Citizen Complaint Authority; Liquor Licenses; and Public Services. During this term, Smitherman also sat on the Budget and Finance Committee, Economic Growth and Zoning Committee, and the Neighborhoods Committee. Smitherman was sworn in for a four-year term on December 1, 2013.

2018 - PresentEdit

2017 Cincinnati City Council Election Results

Winning Candidates

Losing Candidates

  • Michelle Dillingham (D): 21,773
  • Ozie Davis (D): 18,671
  • Lesley Jones (D): 18,345
  • Laure Quinlivan (I): 16,758
  • Derek Bauman (C): 16,680
  • Henry Frondorf (C): 10,637
  • Seth Maney (R): 10,114
  • Brian Garry (G): 9,152
  • Kelli Prather (I): 7,175
  • Tamie Sullivan (G): 6,232
  • Tonya Dumas (I): 6,186
  • Erica L. Black-Johnson (I): 5,539
  • Cristina Burcica (I): 4,150
  • Manuel Foggie (I): 3,556
  • Dadrien Washington (I): 125
Smitherman at the Little Village stay-and-play center grand opening.

On November 7, 2017, Smitherman was reelected with 27,149 votes. On December 13, 2017, Mayor John Cranley, having just defeated incumbent City Councilwoman and Mayoral challenger Yvette Simpson, appointed Christopher Smitherman to serve as the Vice Mayor replacing then Vice Mayor David Mann.[18] Cranley also appointed Smitherman to serve on the Cincinnati Planning Commission starting on January 2, 2018. Smitherman was sworn in as a member of the Cincinnati City Council and as the Cincinnati Vice Mayor on January 2, 2018. Smitherman continues to serve as Chair of the Law and Public Safety Committee. He is also a member of the Economic Growth and Zoning Committee and the Neighborhoods Committee. In early 2019, Smitherman submitted his resignation from the Budget and Finance Committee - citing time constraints. Smitherman is term-limited and will end his tenure on Cincinnati City Council in January 2022.

Two Year City Council TermsEdit

In the wake of five democratic members of Cincinnati City Council, P.G. Sittenfeld, Chris Seelbach, Wendell Young, Tamaya Dennard, and Greg Landsman, being caught in an open meeting law(s) violation(s) scandal, Smitherman announced in May 2018, that he was launching a ballot initiative to place a charter amendment on the November Ballot to revert Cincinnati City Council terms to 2 years.[19] This issue, which later became known as "Issue 10," was later placed on the ballot by a council vote. On November 6, 2018, Cincinnati voters approved "Issue 10" by a margin of 70.09% (71,461) in favor and 29.91% (30,502) opposed.[20] The amendment will take effect in 2021, following the next council election.

Marijuana DecriminalizationEdit

In May 2019, Christopher Smitherman and Councilman Jeff Pastor sponsored an ordinance that would decriminalize the possession of marijuana under 100 grams in the City of Cincinnati.[21] After failing to pass suspension, Smitherman vowed to begin a petition drive to put the issue on the ballot if the ordinance ultimately failed. On June 12, 2019, Cincinnati City Council voted 5–3 to pass the ordinance.

Vice Mayor of CincinnatiEdit

Smitherman was reelected to Cincinnati City Council on November 7, 2017. Following the election, on December 13, 2017, Cincinnati mayor John Cranley appointed Christopher Smitherman to serve as the vice mayor of Cincinnati – replacing former vice mayor David S. Mann.[22] Smitherman took the oath of vice mayor on January 2, 2018, during the city council and mayoral inaugural ceremony. The role of the vice mayor is to act and preside over city council in the absence of the mayor. Smitherman's term as vice mayor will end in January 2021.

President of the Cincinnati NAACPEdit

On March 27, 2007, Smitherman was elected president of the Cincinnati Chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) after a highly contested election with incumbent Edith Thrower.[23] During his term the chapter's membership increased 600% from 500 to 3,000 members and the chapter's debt was eliminated.[24] In June 2013, Smitherman temporarily stepped down as president during his reelection campaign for Cincinnati City Council. James Clingman, a vice president of the NAACP and founder of the Greater Cincinnati African-American Chamber of Commerce, served as interim president.[25] Smitherman won reelection to council in November 2013 and tendered his resignation as president of the Cincinnati NAACP effective January 1, 2014.[26]

During Smitherman's time as president, the Cincinnati NAACP co-authored and co-sponsored five ballot initiatives, three of which were successful. Those initiatives that passed included defeating a county jail tax, stopping red-light cameras, and allowing voters to ratify the sale of Greater Cincinnati Water Works. Smitherman fell short in his attempt to institute proportional representation on city council and to pass Issue 9, the anti-street car rail initiative.[27] In order to place these initiatives on the ballot, Smitherman helped collect more than 100,000 signatures.

Hamilton County jail taxEdit

In 2007, the Cincinnati NAACP partnered with various bipartisan activist groups throughout Cincinnati and Hamilton County, Ohio to oppose a proposed tax increase to fund a massive jail development in Cincinnati. The sales tax increase included a 0.5 percent for eight years and 0.25 percent for an additional seven years. The tax would pay for a $198 million, 1,800 bed adult detention facility, $11 million juvenile detention facility expansion of 50 beds, a $2 million Hamilton County Justice Center remodeling and other programs that altogether totaled $736 million over 15 years.[28] In order to place this initiative on the November ballot, 28,750 signatures were needed. The Hamilton County Board of Elections confirmed 38,961 valid signatures were obtained.[29] On November 6, 2007, Hamilton County voters of rejected the sales tax increase by more than a 12% margin.[30]

Red light camerasEdit

In 2008, the Cincinnati NAACP, along with other activist groups, collected over 10,000 signatures to put the use of red light cameras to the voters.[31] The ballot initiative would allow the voters to decide on an amendment to the city charter prohibiting local officials from ever installing either red light cameras or speed cameras.[32] In November 2008, a majority of Cincinnati voters approved the amendment to the city charter prohibiting the use of red light cameras.


  1. ^ Curnette, Mark (December 20, 2013). of the NAACP. "Smitherman resigns as local NAACP branch president" Check |url= value (help). The Cincinnati Enquirer. Retrieved 26 December 2013.
  2. ^ "Vice Mayor Christopher Smitherman".
  3. ^ "Cincinnati NAACP rises again to host convention". 5 July 2008.
  4. ^ "City Council",The City of Cincinnati, 08 Jul 2016
  5. ^ "Full Biography for Chris Smitherman".
  6. ^ "EARLIER: Who is Chris Smitherman?".
  7. ^ "Vice Mayor Christopher Smitherman".
  8. ^ "Pamela Smitherman, 48: Wife, mom, teacher died Tuesday".
  9. ^ "For better or worse, cancer won't define Smithermans".
  10. ^ After Paul Booth stepped down from his seat on the Cincinnati City Council, Cole was sworn in as his replacement on April 23, 2003.
  11. ^ "Full Biography for Chris Smitherman".
  12. ^ "Full Biography for Chris Smitherman".
  13. ^ "News: A Whole New Team".
  14. ^ "Council Member; City of Cincinnati Election Information November 8, 2011 Election".
  15. ^ "Voter Information for Christopher E. C. Smitherman. November 8, 2011 Election".
  16. ^ "Voter Information for Christopher E.C. Smitherman. November 5, 2013 Election".
  17. ^ "Cincinnati will have a new mayor". 6 November 2013.
  18. ^ "Smitherman appointed vice mayor". 2017-12-27.
  19. ^ "Chris Smitherman says it's time to go back to 2-year council terms. He's already collecting signatures".
  20. ^ "Cincinnati, Ohio, Issue 10, City Council Two-Year Terms Charter Amendment (November 2018)".
  21. ^ "Marijuana decriminalization: Cincinnati takes first steps".
  22. ^ "Smitherman appointed vice mayor". 2017-12-27.
  23. ^ Communications, Emmis (October 2008). "Cincinnati Magazine".
  24. ^ "He Shall Overcome". July 2010.
  25. ^ "Smitherman Temporarily Stepping Down from NAACP".
  26. ^ "Smitherman stepping down as president of Cincinnati NAACP". 20 December 2013.
  27. ^ "He Shall Overcome". July 2010.
  28. ^ "Issue 27: Referendum on Resolution of the Board of County Commissioners - Hamilton County, OH".
  29. ^ "Momentum builds for repealing Hamilton County jail tax".
  30. ^ "News: Jail Tax Loses in Landslide".
  31. ^ "Ohio: Push for a Vote on Red Light Cameras Gathers Steam".
  32. ^ "Cincinnati Voters Ban Red Light Cameras". 2008-11-06.