Issue One Defeated But Supporters Look Ahead To Charter Review Discussions
Issue One, the city-wide ballot question on ward representation on Columbus city council, was defeated by a nearly 3-to-1 margin Tuesday. But both the supporters -- and the opponents -- say it's not the end of the discussion. Alison Holm has more.
Despite single digit turnout and overwhelming numbers, organizers of Represent Columbus, the group that got issue One on the ballot, don't feel they lost Tuesday. Co-chair Whitney Smith told reporters the group brought attention to key issues in Columbus.
"We've brought city hall's lack of representation and corruption to the forefront of the conversation. It's no longer "if" we should have district representation, it's when will we have it and how will it look."
Amending the 100-year old city charter provision that defines city council as a seven-person body, elected at-large by the entire city, was always a long shot. When developers, labor unions, and several of the biggest companies in Columbus signed on to support the anti-ward group, the odds got even longer. But One Columbus spokesperson and former mayoral candidate James Ragland says the idea of changing city government is not being dismissed.
"The mayor and the city council looked at the 39-thousand people who signed the petitions for Issue One to get it on the ballot, and they said 'you know what? that's a large portion of our city that is speaking to us'.... We've always felt like Issue One was a no-go because of the way that it was presented. But we really do feel like if that many people are speaking about some changes that need to be made, then we need to respond in a responsible fashion."
Last month Columbus ayor Andrew Ginther announced a seven-person charter review committee will be formed in September to study suggestions to change city government. Represent Columbus co-chair Jonathan Beard calls that a first step.
"We expect that to happen, and we expect them to do that in good faith. We'll be around; we'll be a part of that process. Likely not invited, but certainly from the outside, commenting, making our views known. So, Issue One was voted down, the issue has not gone away, though."