Adam Koehler knew he was running for Mayor of Cincinnati last September when someone was shot dead outside his Mount Auburn home for the second time this year.
The 43-year-old tech entrepreneur, founder of electronic signature company Dotloop before it was sold to Zillow for $ 108 million in 2015, says he will bring his business acumen to town hall and work to lift people out of poverty.
Koehler is a newcomer to politics and has no party affiliation, despite having voted as a Democrat in previous primary elections. He says the city elections shouldn’t be about Democrats and Republicans challenging it.
He hasn’t been put off by possibly the largest field of mayors since the city’s directly elected mayor system began in 2001.
The city elections for mayor and city council in 2021 will followA third of the city’s nine-member city council has been arrested on federal corruption charges – including city council member PG Sittenfeld, who was the front runner in the mayor’s race at the time.
Sittenfeld says he is innocent and is fighting the prosecution. He didn’t say he wasn’t running, but he has been silent since his federal bribery arrest and arrest sparked a spate of mayor announcements by some of the biggest names in Cincinnati politics.
Former Cincinnati city councilor Jim Tarbell, who is a member of the charter committee, said Koehler’s decision to run for mayor was “inspirational”.
Years ago Koehler worked on Tarbell’s campaign and the two still chat occasionally.
“PG Fall really changed everything,” said Tarbell. “It blew it all up when he was arrested. If you’re ever going to run for mayor, now is the time.”
Tarbell described Koehler as “smart, clever, and a hard worker”.
Tarbell isn’t currently endorsing anyone but said, “I’m glad Adam is in there. That’s the kind of talent we need, especially now.”
Charcoal burnerfollowed news from The allegations and many of the mayoral candidates speak of eliminating corruption.
It made him angry. He sees many of the leaders currently elected as politicians for their next job. That’s not who he is, he said.
But Koehler said his run is based on making the city a better place for anyone to call home.
West Side Roots; a ‘Cincinnati Missionary’ in Pittsburgh
Koehler grew up mostly in West Price Hill and was raised by a single mother after his mother divorced his drug and alcoholic father.
He and his brother shared a bed in his grandmother’s small rental home followed by moving around Cincinnati 17 or 18 times during his childhood, he said. There were evictions and the houses were often in criminal areas.
“I always promised myself that I would never be poor again,” said Koehler.
Koehler said his salvation was a talent for drawing that earned him a place at the school for creative and performing arts.
There he met students from all over the city. They were of different ethnicities and came from different economic backgrounds. There were other ways of life, he realized.
“SCPA helped me escape the violent mentality,” he said. “Unfortunately, a lot of children in this city grow up because of violence and poverty. We had democratic leadership; Nothing has changed. I want to change that. “
In high school, Koehler worked on Kings Island, where he was photographing people as they walked in and convinced them to buy the pictures, and for Cincinnati Citicable.
He used the money to buy clothes.
As college approached, Koehler asked a school counselor for financial assistance. He remembers the conversation this way: She was open; There was no money for white men, especially if they didn’t get good grades. He did not do it.
“It was a life-changing moment,” said Koehler. “I had to find out. It got me out of a welfare mentality. I thought, ‘It’s up to you, or you might as well be poor for the rest of your life.’ “
Koehler took out loans and went to the Art Institute of Pittsburgh. He bought a Chevrolet Nova in 1986, put a Cincinnati Bengals sticker on the bumper, and drove to Pittsburgh.
Not everyone in Pittsburgh loved seeing this sticker, but Koehler used it to announce how great he thought his hometown was.
“I was a Cincinnati missionary,” he said. “I love Cincinnati. It’s part of me It made me. “He never stopped being that city cheerleader, he said.
“I am a capitalist, but not an evil capitalist.”
After art school, Koehler returned to Cincinnati, where he worked a number of jobs in magazines, branding, and advertising. Koehler designed the logos for the Cincinnati Center City Development Corporation and Fountain Square, among others.
At one point he was the art director for the local magazine Your New Home, owned by Tom Tarbell, Jim Tarbell’s brother. It was natural for Koehler to work on Jim Tarbell’s campaign. He describes Tarbell as a hero because Tarbell built underserved neighborhoods, especially over the Rhine.
At that time, a political run never occurred to him, let alone a mayor.
That was in the early 2000s. The internet exploded and offered many job opportunities. He worked for a website building company and then started an ad agency for other ad agencies that made it possible for people to be freelance and work from anywhere.
Around this time he met Matt Vorst and Austin Allison, who had an idea for a start-up that enabled electronic signatures for real estate contracts.
It seems routine now. Then it was visionary. Dotloop was born. Koehler was a co-founder and creative director.
“We have eliminated the fax machine,” said Koehler. “We did it in Cincinnati.”
In 2015, Zillow called and the trio sold the company for $ 108 million.
During his career, Koehler started an accidental low income landlord.
He owned a house on Sunset Avenue, but it was too big for him and his brother. When he saw an ad in The Enquirer that was placed by a family of 10, parents with eight children who couldn’t find a big enough house to rent, Koehler called them and rented the Sunset house for them.
This has resulted in more properties being rented and he still owns a handful of properties that he rents out. In this business he had to drive people away, although he did not want to. He also has a handful of properties that were foreclosed after tenants destroyed the properties, making them uninhabitable, he said.
Koehler was far from retiring. He now owns Covworx, a common room in Covington that he moved from an empty building to a multi-company building valued at $ 2.25 million.
He has been sued twice for unpaid taxes in the past, but those issues have been resolved and the tax bill has been paid, he said.
Koehler is a board member of Adopt-a-Class, a school mentoring program in Cincinnati, and a board member of Legatus, an international organization of Catholic business leaders and leaders committed to studying, living and promoting the Catholic faith. When Koehler mentions this, he goes into the corruption in the town hall and says that he cannot very well allow corruption to fester if he is committed to ethical business.
Koehler’s Catholic faith is a big part of his life. He grew up in St. William Parish, although he doesn’t know the current Mayor, John Cranley, who talks about him oftenSt. William roots.
Koehler got married in the Vatican two years ago. He has no children.
Koehler and his wife live in Mount Auburn, where he has seen the kind of crimes that citizens expect political leaders to stop. Sam Dubose, who was fatally shot and killed by a University of Cincinnati police officer in 2015, was killed across the street from his home.
When phone calls to the police did nothing to a nearby empty house that served as a drug den and assembly point, he bought it. He gave it to the Cincinnati Fire Department for training and then paid to have it demolished. The result, he says: no more people lounging around wanting to buy drugs there.
If he wins, Koehler said he will focus on financial literacy to help lift people out of poverty and support educational opportunities to make that happen.
“I’m a capitalist, but not a bad capitalist,” said Koehler. “Business helps people out of poverty.”
Koehler has a podcast, Side Hustle Cincinnati, devoted to the idea of how work can make dreams come true. His logo: a pink flying pig.
“I’m not trained to be in politics,” said Koehler. “I have a commercial education. I’m trained to get things done. “
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