Bobbie Sterne was smart. She was empathetic and respectful – a sure pioneer as a woman in Cincinnati politics.
The death of Sterne – the first woman to be elected mayor and pillar of city politics in almost three decades – on Wednesday evening touched many in the city, including women who worked by her side or viewed her as their role models.
“Bobbie paved the way for other women to serve in elected offices,” said Denise Driehaus, Hamilton County commissioner. “We stand on your shoulders.”
Bobbie Sterne “lived a great life” in Cincinnati politics
What they say about the pioneer Bobbie Sterne
Star was first elected to Cincinnati City Council in 1971 and was re-elected to office in 1979 in addition to her first term as mayor. She continued her political career until 1998, with a two-year hiatus, after losing her council seat in 1985.
Driehaus was serving in the Star neighborhood of the early 1990s as a legal advisor to another then Councilor, her current Co-County Commissioner Todd Portune.
“What always impressed me was that she had a kind of silent authority,” said Driehaus. “She was very smart. Very well researched, as were her staff.”
Marilyn Ormsbee, who ran Sternes campaigns and ran her town hall office for years, said Sternes political blows were due to “being on a good number of bodies in town, mostly women’s organizations, Girl Scouts, PTA, this and that. She was used to leading things. “
But Sterne “was the kind of person who wouldn’t have noticed the difference between women by her side and men next to her,” Ormsbee said. However, women worked “day and night” to vote for stars for each campaign.
Laura Lydon Green also worked for stars at City Hall for eight years in the 1990s.
She said her boss, back in his seventies, was a wild role model. “Amazing, empowering, supportive,” said Green. “She was a teacher. She wanted to make sure I understood both the why and what she was doing. She expected us to be absolutely professional. “
Sternes intelligence and life experiences armored her against the rebound of being a woman in politics. “She was from head to toe with the boys. I think she knew how to outsmart the boys to get them on their side of the problem, “said Green.
Everyone would be proud to emulate stars, said Jerry Newfarmer, who served alongside her city steward from 1990-1993.
“Bobbie was the epitome of good government,” he said.
For him, he was the point of contact to find out how the council can be made to react to him in its role as city administrator. “She was very much a council leader,” said Newfarmer. “She was someone who really understood the city council’s group dynamics.”
And she used that perception to her own advantage, Newfarmer said: “If she had a political goal that she pursued, she would always achieve it.”
Former Mayor Roxanne Qualls said she viewed Sterne as a mentor who inspired more women to take on leadership roles previously dominated by men. “She was someone who was really a role model, especially for the next generation.”
Councilor Yvette Simpson said Sterne was remembered as a woman to adore her.
“Bobbie Sterne was an amazing role model for me as a civil servant,” said Simpson. “She was the foundation of strong, dedicated leadership – at a time when it was so much more difficult for women leaders.”
“She really paved the way for all of us who followed her,” said Simpson.
“I have three daughters and we took part in the women’s march earlier this year,” said Green. “And I know if she could have been, (Stars) would have been right there with us.”