COLUMBUS (WCMH) – Tuesday’s special election could change the way city council is structured.
Issue 1 aims to overhaul the makeup of city council into a ward system. Its opposition wants to keep the structure as is, with seven members elected at-large.
The group Represent Columbus supports Issue 1.
“The problem right now is that city council is elected at-large,” said Whitney Smith, co-chair of Represent Columbus. “They’re elected citywide. They’re not accountable to anyone or any neighborhood.”
The group One Columbus opposes Issue 1.
“We oppose Issue 1 because it will dramatically expand the size of city council, the cost of city council,” said Bryan Clark, campaign manager of One Columbus.
Right now, city council has seven members who are elected city-wide or at-large. Issue 1 proposes to make that number 13, by creating ten wards and having three at-large members.
“People in the city can actually have a representative who lives in their neighborhood, who they can talk to and who they can hold accountable to whatever issue they have that specific to them,” said Smith.
“Issue 1 actually decreases representation on council,” said Clark. “Right now, every Columbus voter gets to vote for all seven council members. Under this proposal, you would only get to vote for four out of 13 council members.”
An attack ad paid for by One Columbus claims the change in city council’s structure will cost taxpayers more money.
It states: “Issue 1 would triple the size of city council, up to 25 politicians, each making up to $80,000 a year.”
“That would have to be in over 200 years,” said Smith. “When they say 25 no one’s voting on 25. Right now, you’re voting on ten.”
“Each council member costs taxpayers $80,000 a year,” said Clark. “That’s the full cost for salary and benefits.”
Clark also says the language in the proposed charter amendment is vague.
“There are just so many things that we don’t know,” he says. “We don’t know what a map would look like. We don’t know what the budget will be.”
Smith says people, not politicians will get to draw the district boundaries for each ward.
“If we start off with a map it’s really divisive and that’s to push an agenda, where the only thing that we want to do here is give neighborhoods representation,” says Smith.
Polls open Tuesday at 6:30am and close at 7:30pm.