- The 39-year-old, who is the first Asian American to lead the city, is the son of an Indian father and a Tibetan mother.
Cincinnati Mayor Aftab Pureval has just wound up his trip in India during which he met with the 14th Dalai Lama in Dharamshala. Pureval, 39, who is of Tibetan and Indian heritage, was invited to India along with a cohort of mayors and public figures including San Leandro, California, Mayor Pauline Cutter; Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer; former Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto; Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf and Lonnie Ali, a philanthropist and widow of Muhammad Ali.
“I am honored to take part in this incredible opportunity to meet His Holiness and invite him to our bold, dynamic city,” Cincinnati’s first Asian American mayor said in a Dec. 1 statement prior to his departure, as reported by The Enquirer. “Having a global leader visit Cincinnati would be huge, and as the highest-ranking elected Tibetan American in the country, my meeting with him showcases our city’s commitment to diversity and growing the city equitably.”
The mayor, who left for India on Dec. 3, and was expected to get back on Dec. 7, paid for the trip himself, his spokeswoman Helena Battipaglia told The Enquirer.
After his mayoral meeting with the Dalai Lama on Dec. 5, Pureval paid a visit to the Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile (TPiE) where he met Speaker Khenpo Sonam Tenphel, Deputy Speaker Dolma Tsering Teykhang and standing committee members of TPiE, according to Tibet.net, the official Twitter page of the Central Tibetan Administration. Thereafter, he visited the Kashag Secretariat where he interacted with several lawmakers. In addition, he toured The Tibet Museum, Library of Tibetan Works and Archives (LTWA) and Petoen school at the premise of Gangchen Kyishong.
Last November, Pureval defeated longtime city council member and two-time mayor David Mann in his first run for Cincinnati, Ohio’s highest office. Most recently, the Hamilton County clerk of courts, Pureval campaigned on the idea that he would bring fresh ideas to City Hall.
This January, during Pureval’s swearing-in, the Dalai Lama had sent him a letter “offering prayers and good wishes,” The Enquirer reported at the time. It was pressed to him by members of the Indiana, Ohio, and Kentucky Tibetan Association. “In all my interactions with Tibetans, I have been encouraged to see that, despite living in new circumstances by and large they and their children are able to maintain their sense of identity while contributing to the development of their adopted country,” read the letter, according to The Enquirer.