Charter-amendment ordinance presented to Canal Winchester City Council

Scott Gerfen
ThisWeek USA TODAY Network
Canal Winchester municipal offices

Canal Winchester City Council heard the first reading June 7 of an ordinance detailing a list of charter amendments that, if approved, will go before voters in November. 

Every 10 years, citizens are appointed to review, line by line, the city charter, which includes 12 articles related to City Council, the mayor, boards and commissions and other leadership functions. 

City Council can accept, reject, modify or create its own language before placing any charter changes before voters. 

Charter amendments included in the ordinance would: 

• Require notice of a recall election to be posted on the city's website

• Permit City Council to assign other duties to the clerk of council

• Clarify that City Council is not required to adopt rules at its first meeting every year 

• Provide gender-neutral language in the section of the charter dealing with council vacancies

• Allow copies of the city's ordinances to be kept at other locations in City Hall 

• Require ordinances and resolutions to be published on the city's website 

• Update references of "village" to "city"

• Reduce the time between charter reviews from 10 years to five years

If approved by council, voters would decide all amendments as one issue. 

Two amendments that received overwhelming support from the Canal Winchester Charter Review Commission were left out of the proposed ordinance. 

One would have prohibited any mayoral or council candidate from “seeking, accepting, publishing or communicating an endorsement.” The other would have required candidates for City Council and mayor to live in the city for at least a year before running for office. 

“I still wish that the two items that we did not bring forward, that council would at least consider putting them as separate items on the ballot so the voters can choose,” Councilwoman Jill Amos said. 

“I think we’ve had pretty good discussions,” council Vice President Mike Coolman said. “I think on the one concerning endorsement, we heard loudly from our law director that it’s highly unconstitutional.” 

Both council President Mike Walker and Councilman Bob Clark have voiced concerns that prohibiting endorsements would violate the U.S. Constitution and possibly open the city to lawsuits. 

“There are ways to word that statement so that it’s able to be put on the ballot and able to be voted on,” Amos said. “It would be more of a recommendation instead of a mandate or (candidates would be) strongly encouraged not to do that.” 

The review commission voted 9-2 to recommend the charter change related to political party endorsements. 

Council did discuss the idea of possibly putting the residency requirement on the ballot as a separate issue. 

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