Council comes out against ward measure
Columbus City Council finally has responded to the matter of ward representation, shortly after the latest petition drive failed to put the issue on the November ballot.
Council President Andy Ginther, in a recent letter, said the proposed charter amendment that would have created a system of ward and at-large positions on council would "limit the power of our citizens, disenfranchise our diverse community and create a dysfunctional form of local government while pitting neighborhood against neighborhood."
The Columbus Coalition for a Responsive Government, which led the unsuccessful petition drive, repeatedly had asked council to hold hearings on the subject and take the initiative to put it on the ballot.
John Ivanic, council spokesman, said council didn't weigh in on the matter "out of respect for the democratic process."
He said the letter was emailed to all of the people in council's database, posted on the council website and a link Tweeted to followers.
Jonathan Beard, spokesman for the Columbus Coalition for Responsive Government, said he was unimpressed with council's response.
"I think this confirmed everything we've said about them," he said. "They had their minds made up and don't care what the public says."
One thing is clear: The issue isn't going away and the timing gives both sides plenty of time to shore up support.
The coalition is seeking to create 11 council positions: seven district representatives and four at-large members. Council currently has seven at-large members.
Beard said the group intends to proceed with a future ballot issue, which also could seek to impose term limits and amendments to the appointment process.
"It's a choice you make in a form of government," Beard said. "Again, were not taking anything away. We're not deciding anything."
In the meantime, a representative of Keep Columbus Strong, which opposes the ward issue, said it would keep a close eye on the coalition's efforts.
The Franklin County Board of Elections said that of the 26,870 signatures submitted by the coalition, only 8,471 were valid. The group needed 19,164 valid signatures in order to get the issue before voters in November.
There board of elections also raised concerns that some of the signatures on the petitions were forged.