A self-appointed citizens’ group calling itself Represent Columbus is proposing to fundamentally change the structure of Columbus City Council. They want to increase Council membership from 7 to 13 and make 10 of those members ward representatives while 3 remain at-large members. And they have collected enough signatures to get a special election scheduled for August 2, 2016.
There is no doubt in my mind that Columbus City Council needs to be reformed. In my view we desperately need more political balance in the Council. The current Council rules and exclusively Democratic membership invites cronyism and helps perpetuate itself regardless of voters’ preference. All Council members should be chosen by voters, even those filling unexpired terms. In concept I don’t object to a ward based system for electing Council members. However I plan to vote against Issue 1 on August 2nd.
Represent Columbus has simply not done its job. They have not provided the information any resident needs to cast an informed vote in the affirmative. Among other things we have no idea, for example, what the rules will be for drawing up ward boundaries or how the members of the group charged with implementing those rules will be selected. We can’t be confident that wards will not be created to promote racial segregation, create class boundaries, or protect political incumbency.
Represent Columbus assures us that the process will be transparent, bipartisan, and that there will be no gerrymandering. Since politics is involved though I just don’t trust them. I want to see the details of what the new governing structure and associated costs will look like first.
They have to show me the proposed ward boundaries, the cost to implement the plan, and the ongoing annual cost for the resulting City operations if they want me to consider a positive vote on such a proposal.