A new political organization announced this morning that they would be filing a petition to change the way that Columbus City Council operates. The Columbus Coalition for Responsive Government (CCRG) is proposing an ordinance that will change Council from a seven-member at-large system system to an 11-member council where four serve in at-large capacities with an additional seven council members serving within specific districts. The districts would be established by an appointment board of non-elected Columbus citizens.
“Columbus really has an archaic system of representation,” said Jonathan Beard, one of the five members on the ballot issue committee. “When you look at the largest 25 cities in America, Columbus is one of just three cities that have at-large representation where all council members require a city-wide vote.”
Beard argues that the current system was appropriate when the Columbus City Charter was adopted in 1914 and Columbus was a city of 181,000 people, but is no longer appropriate for a city of over 780,000 residents.
“The at-large system is failing the neighborhoods,” said Willis Brown, another CCRG member. “When you look at all the unanimous Council votes on such contentious issues as the Cooper Stadium race track or the public bailout of the Nationwide Arena, you realize there really isn’t an ability for these politicians to reflect the diversity of thought in Columbus.”
The leadership of the Columbus Coalition for Responsive Government is championing this proposal as a multi-party effort, and is submitting the petition to the City Auditor on election day so that it is not a political issue affecting voters prior to the election, nor viewed as a response to the outcome of the election.
“Our working group, which included members of four different political parties working together, successfully balanced improved representation for neighborhoods and increased accountability of elected officials with fiscal responsibility,” said Robert Fitrakis, a founder of the CCRG.
The Columbus Coalition will host an open meeting at the Ohio Historical Center on Wednesday, November 16th, at 6:15PM to discuss the proposal, recruit volunteers and begin raising funds for the campaign.
More information can be found online at ColumbusCoalition.info.