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Aftab Pureval Managed What Seemed To Be Impossible - He Defeated A Winkler

Aftab Pureval addresses supporters after learning about his Hamilton County Clerk of Courts victory.
Aftab Pureval addresses supporters after learning about his Hamilton County Clerk of Courts victory.
Aftab Pureval addresses supporters after learning about his Hamilton County Clerk of Courts victory.
Credit Bill Rinehart / WVXU
Aftab Pureval addresses supporters after learning about his Hamilton County Clerk of Courts victory.

Democrat Aftab Pureval did something Tuesday night that seemed impossible for the past few generations of Democrats in Hamilton County – he defeated a Winkler in an election.

In this case, it was Tracy Winkler, the Hamilton County clerk of courts.

Pureval – a first-time candidate – had 52 percent of the vote to Winkler's 48 percent.

"We had  a plan; we stuck to the plan and we ran a grassroots campaign,'' Pureval told WVXU. "In 2016, qualifications and idea won out." 

It helped that he outspent his opponent by about five-to-one, but he did it too with sweat and shoe leather.

The fact that he had an uncommon, hard-to-pronounce name was a concern for the 34-year-old O'Bryonville resident, when he was mulling over the possibility of running for office in Hamilton County this year, his fellow Democrats say.

His name is a source of pride for Pureval. It was given to him by a father from India and a mother who was a Tibetan refugee who fled the Chinese communists.

His parents came to this country and decided to settle in, of all places, Beavercreek, Ohio.

He became student body president at The Ohio State University (often a door that, once opened, can lead to a career in politics), earned a law degree at the University of Cincinnati, worked for a time with a high-powered law firm in Washington, D.C. , where he did pro bono work representing battered women; and returned to Cincinnati to serve a special assistant U.S. attorney.

These days, he is working for Procter & Gamble as the attorney for a billion-dollar brand. Winkler is a potent name in Hamilton County politics, particularly among the throngs of Republican voters in the West Side suburbs.

As far as making people familiar with his name, he used a light-hearted approach, doing campaign TV ads with a duck puppet that would periodically squawk "Aftab" – sort of like the Aflac duck in the popular TV ads.

Tracy Winkler is part of a passel of Winklers who are serving or have served in elective office – her husband Ralph "Ted" Winkler is the county probate judge; her father-in-law, Ralph Winkler, is retired after serving decades as a judge; her brother-in-law, Robert Winkler, is a common pleas court judge; and her late mother-in-law, Cheryl Winkler, was a Green Township trustee and a state representative.

The newspaper City Beat acquired e-mails Winkler's then-chief deputy bailiff, Donald Robinson Jr., sent to employees of the clerk's office telling them to contact the agency's human resources  director if they were willing to distribute campaign yard signs, wear Winkler T-shirts and march in a parade with other Winkler supporters.

"There are plenty of events this weekend to get out and support our Keep Tracy Winkler Clerk of Courts campaign,'' Robinson wrote in one of the e-mails City Beat acquired. "As always, post your pictures to all social media."

Winkler reprimanded Robinson for the e-mails, which were sent through personal e-mail accounts but during work hours. And she transferred him to a new job, safety and security manager/director, at the same salary he made as chief deputy bailiff for municipal court.

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