Hilliard voters likely will be asked in November whether the city charter should be amended to eliminate party-affiliated primary elections for Hilliard City Council.

It is the sole charter-amendment proposal that could be presented as a standalone question on the Nov. 5 general-election ballot; other amendment proposals will be presented as a combined ballot issue.

An ordinance directing the Franklin County Board of Elections to place the party-affiliation amendment on the Nov. 5 ballot is scheduled Monday, June 24, for a second reading and public hearing by City Council.

"(Political affiliation) is just a barrier," council member Nathan Painter said in March.

Currently, a primary is necessary only when the board of elections certifies the petitions of more than two Republican or Democrat candidates for each City Council seat up for election. Otherwise, candidates advance to the general election without the requirement for a primary.

For example, this year four Democrats and four Republicans filed petitions to run for three council seats, and under that scenario each party was expected to have a primary to narrow the field to three candidates in each party.

However, the petition of one Democrat candidate was not certified and one Republican candidate withdrew, making no primary necessary for either party.

If voters approve the proposed amendment to eliminate party-affiliated primaries, candidates would file petitions for the general election only, but it remains unclear whether as many candidates that are certified would appear on the general-election ballot.

"The charter doesn't spell this out," said David Ball, director of communications for Hilliard, when asked whether an open primary would be instituted to reduce the number of potential general-election candidates. "I'd say there would be no initial primary."

The proposed charter-amendment language remains subject to change and has not been approved by City Council, Ball said.

In order for the proposed charter amendment to appear on the Nov. 5 ballot, City Council must meet an Aug. 7 filing deadline with the board of elections, according to city staff attorney Kelly Clodfelder.

A third and final reading of the ordinance is scheduled July 8, the last regularly scheduled meeting before Aug. 7 because of summer recess.

Regardless of the decision on the primary charter amendment, voters will be asked to approve a battery of charter amendments that will be presented as a separate ballot issue.

City Council approved legislation June 10 to place those amendment requests on the ballot. The legislation was introduced last year but was tabled until council members vetted and finalized the subject matter.

The amendments include amending the city's policy for mandatory waiting periods concerning rezoning applications and defining a nondiscrimination policy.

In addition to the proposed charter amendment, council members also expect a future nondiscrimination ordinance to make the policy part of city code, council President Kelly McGivern said.

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