Archived Story

Minority correct on city charter

Published 12:08am Sunday, July 28, 2013

It is not often that the minority viewpoint comes out on top in local government, but that is exactly what occurred Thursday night at the Ironton City Council meeting. Maybe even more interestingly is that it was the best outcome for the citizens.

The leadership body had to decide on whether or not to place a charter amendment on the November ballot that would let voters decide if they wanted to eliminate mayoral term limits. Four councilmen — Kevin Waldo, Mike Lutz, Philip Heald and Ralph “Butch” Huff — voted in favor of it. Councilmen Aaron Bollinger and Dave Frazer joined councilwoman Beth Rist in voting against it.

With a 4-3 margin some may have been confused in thinking this passed, right? Not so fast.

The city leaders who created the charter 33 years ago felt that changing the document should be a difficult and deliberate process. They crafted the steps accordingly by tying it to the Ohio Constitution. It requires a two-thirds vote — a supermajority — which translates to five out of seven councilpersons in favor.

That didn’t happen.

Supporters of the charter change have said that this deprives citizens of the ability to have a voice. That couldn’t be farther from the truth.

Citizens absolutely can change this part of the city’s laws but they have to be the ones to lead the way by gathering signatures to get it placed on the ballot. Council has no place in doing so as it breaks down the separation of powers between the executive and legislative branches of Ironton’s government. If citizens want to make this change, they have to stand up and make it happen.

Where is the public outcry? Where were these people at the council meetings? Where are the letters to the editor?

This shouldn’t be about the current mayor, Rich Blankenship. It is about being cautious in making a fundamental change to the foundation the city’s government is built upon. It is about a system that is far greater than any one individual.

Until significant public discussion has occurred and an effort by the citizens, it was actually council’s minority that did the right thing.

 

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