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After Public Opposition to $12,707.79 Limit, Council Delays Vote on Campaign Finance Reform

Madeline Stocker Madeline Stocker After Public Opposition to $12,707.79 Limit, Council Delays Vote on Campaign Finance ReformPhoto by Walker Evans.
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Columbus City Council has agreed to delay the vote on Mayor Andrew Ginther’s proposed $12,707.79 campaign contribution limit.

The decision came after last week’s public hearing, where voters voiced opposition to the limit and to the rushed nature of the proposal.

No one spoke in favor of the limit.

“If you pass this proposal, Columbus will have the highest campaign contribution limit of any major city in the U.S.” said Aaron Christopher, an OSU student and service worker who spoke against the proposed limit last week. “That’s not campaign finance reform — it’s a permission slip for wealthy donors to influence our elections.”

During their Monday meeting, Council members announced they would table the vote in order to gather more input from the public. They did not share a timeline or how they intend to gather feedback.

In a public testimony at City Hall Monday night, former State Representative Marian Harris asked Council members to commit to using an unbiased survey to gather feedback on donation limits.

“When you surveyed the public on the ticket tax, you received over 2,500 responses. What’s more, you spent several months listening to the public and intentionally applying that feedback. So tonight, I ask you — will you commit to doing the same for this critical reform? Will you make an effort to gather feedback from at least 2,500, if not more constituents?”

Harris said she believes the survey should be unbiased, and that an external organization should take charge of designing and implementing the survey, not Council members.

“It’s critical we as a city take the time to get this right,” she said. “That only happens if voters get a real, unbiased chance to weigh in.”

Harris is one of many Columbus residents calling on Council to take the time to gather public input via an independent survey. She was joined Monday night by Nicole Butler, chair of Yes We Can’s campaign finance working group.

“We’re very glad Council has agreed to take the time to gather more public input,” Butler said. “As for what’s next, our message is clear — we want voters to be the ones who decide this limit, and we want the process to be as fair and transparent as possible.”

Butler said she supports a limit between $500 and $3,000, but that she believes an independent, unbiased survey is the only way to ensure the limit reflects the needs and wants of Columbus voters.

“It’s not about what City Council wants, or what Yes We Can wants, or what I want,” Butler said. “It’s about what Columbus wants. And the only way we know that is if we ask.”

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