August Special Election – Wards Proposal
There is a Special Election coming up Tuesday August 2, 2016. Traditionally very few people get out and vote at these special elections. As an issue very important to our neighborhood and Civic Association will be on the ballot, I encourage you to consider the proposed Columbus Charter Amendment and get out to vote!
N.B. Thoughts below are opinion of one member of Board, Scott Prigan — but the request to consider the matter and VOTE is from all of us! If the association decides to issue an official position, we will post that later.
The only issue on the ballot that day will be a proposed Columbus Charter Amendment to change our City Council from at-large representation to a primarily ward based system. The more I have learned of this proposal, the less well I think of it. I fear that it will decrease the influence of area commissions and civic associations — especially of our Forest Park Civic Association.
As things are, each member of Council has a portfolio of responsibilities. When we at F.P.C.A. have an issue, we have historically been very effective at getting the ear of the appropriate Council person — with them often coming to our meetings to hear what we think. With the proposed changes, this situation could be transformed into one where ward representatives are in competition, seeking only the narrow good of their ward, and only our representative will listen. We could find forest Park East pitted against Clintonville, the Near East, Hilltop. We could even find Forest Park East against Forest Park West!
Emmanuel Remy, president of the Northland Community Council, shared some his perspective in This Week Northland News: Remy: System would dilute NCC clout.
A more extensive analysis — and a call to oppose the proposal — was articulated by former Mayor Greg Lashutka in his letter to Dispatch June 19 2016: Voters should oppose charter change. A few quotes:
My concerns are based on my experience serving eight years as Columbus city attorney and eight years as mayor of Columbus. I was honored to serve as president of the National League of Cities, representing local officials across our great country.
Over those years I learned a lot about politics, especially local government. It is my view that where district representatives exceed at-large council representation, the greater good of the community suffers and unintended governance dysfunction occurs. District-based representatives’ first allegiance is to their individual districts, and not to the overall good of the city.
The change also would diminish the voice of our strong neighborhood civic associations and commissions, since too many would be split among multiple council districts.
For another perspective, try the Dispatch today: Cities with both wards, at-large council members can be successful.
Additional Information is also coming available at the League of Women Voters of Metropolitan Columbus, including a forum Tuesday, Jul. 26, 2016, 7:00 pm – 8:30 pm, at the Crossroads Baptist Church, 5075 Cleveland Ave Columbus, OH 43231.
Whether or not you agree with me, Mr. Remy, or former Mayor Lashutka, or proponents of the measure, I strongly urge you to consider this matter, and get out and vote Tuesday August 2, 2016 [Election Info].
The Polls for the Election will open at 6:30 a.m. and remain open until 7:30 p.m. Tuesday August 2, 2016. There are also options for Absentee voting, and Early Voting (from July 6 through August 1).