Mayor Aftab Pureval holds open forum at WHHS

Cincinnati’s Mayor, Aftab Pureval held an informal focus group with WHHS students on May 13. In an open-forum discussion, students shared their experiences with national-level issues, including gun violence, mental health challenges, effects of social media, sustainability and fair wages.

“City Hall is very focused on the increase in violence, particularly, as so much of the violence, the victims are children and the perpetrators are children,” Pureval said. “What better way to better understand the nuances of that challenge than talking to students who may have personal experience or may have a better perspective on the causes of that violence?”

Since being elected as the 70th Mayor of Cincinnati in January, Pureval has held roundtable discussions with elementary to high school-aged students in thirteen Cincinnati schools.

“Being engaged with the younger generation is very important to me and important to the city because the decisions we make now will have an effect on you very soon,” Pureval said. 

In the discussion, Pureval related his goals for the city to the issues and questions students raised, while referencing the work he has already begun. 

“We had a very productive first 100 days where we prioritized growing our city and putting racial equity in the center of the frame, encouraging more black ownership of homes, businesses and neighborhoods,” Pureval said.

Pureval has made historic investments in affordable housing, increasing the trust fund to 57 million. He has also launched an initiative combating climate change, with the goal of fully electrifying city vehicles and reducing carbon emissions to neutrality by 2035.    

Unlike most of Pureval’s town halls and school appearances, the session was far more conversational, allowing Pureval to ask students more questions to learn about their perspectives. 

“If [government officials] are making decisions about our lives, then we should be the ones influencing them and communicating with them about our needs, ” Ella Rentz McCoy, ‘23 said.

Government decisions made on both national and local levels directly affect students at WHHS. 

 “I’ve never been super in the know about Cincinnati politics, so it was nice hearing about what his plans were, especially for the youth, and that he cared about [gun violence in schools] and that he cares enough to want to hear who is affected most,” Eva Ludke, ‘23 said. 

Looking forward, Pureval will be busy this week in Washington, D.C. to celebrate Asian American heritage. As Cincinnati’s first Asian American mayor, Pureval has ambitious plans to invest in the growing AAPI population. 

“For many of the decisions that we have made and will continue to make as we analyze policy, it’s critically important for me to get diverse perspectives from around the city,” Pureval said. “Diverse not just from ethnic backgrounds, but also diverse from age and experiences.”