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Smart Voter
Hamilton County, OH November 6, 2012 Election
Issue 4
Proposed Charter Amendment (Ordinance No. 304-2012)
City of Cincinnati

Majority Approval Required

Pass: 27,800 / 50.06% Yes votes ...... 27,734 / 49.94% No votes

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Information shown below: Summary | Impartial Analysis | Arguments |

A majority affirmative vote is necessary for passage. Shall the Charter of the City of Cincinnati be amended to provide that the members of City Council shall be elected at-large for four-year terms by amending existing Sections 4, 5 and 5a of Article II, "Legislative Power", existing Section 3 of Article III, "Mayor", existing Sections 1, 2a and 2b of Article IX, "Nominations and Elections", and existing Sections 1, 4 and 7 of Article XIII, "Campaign Finance"?



Summary Prepared by League of Women Voters:
This proposed Ballot Issue would amend the Charter of the City of Cincinnati by changing sections having to do with the length of term of office for members of City Council. Council members currently are elected for two-year terms with an election for Council every two years.

If passed, this amendment would provide for the election of Council members for four-year terms. Starting in November 2013, an election for all nine Council members would be held every four years in the same year as the Mayoral election. All Council members would serve concurrent four-year terms and would continue to be elected at-large. The current 8-year term limits for elected council members would be maintained.

This proposed Charter amendment was placed on the ballot by an ordinance passed by City Council.

Impartial Analysis from League of Women Voters
The amendment would change the length of term of office for Council members from two years to four years. There would be an at-large election every four years for all nine Council members. Term limits would remain in effect. With four-year terms, Council members would be prohibited from serving in office for a period longer than two successive four-year terms, e.g. a total of eight years not counting any appointive service.

Currently Council members may not serve in office for a period longer than four successive two-year terms, e.g. a total of eight years not counting any appointive service. During the transition to four-year terms, a provision is made for any Council member elected in November 2011 to possibly serve for ten years on council.

The proposed amendment contains a provision to deal with a vacancy caused by the death, removal or resignation of a member of Council in the early portion of a four-year Council term by providing for a mid-term election for a successor member of council.

If a vacancy occurs before June 1 of the second year of a term, an interim member is appointed, and an election to fill the unexpired term is held on the state determined municipal election date in November of that second year. If the vacancy occurs on or after June 1 of the second year of a term, the seat is filled by appointment for the remainder of the four-year term. This provision is consistent with the current provision providing for a mid-term election to fill a vacancy which occurs during the early portion of a four-year mayoral term. This proposed amendment does not change the term of office for the Mayor (four years), or term limits for the Mayor (eight years), or the process of the appointment of a successor to the office of Mayor.

The amendment also would provide for the appointed Vice-Mayor and the president pro tem to serve terms of four years instead of the current two years. In Article XIII - Campaign Finance - provision would be made to lengthen the terms of members of the Cincinnati Elections Commission to four years to ensure consistency with four-year Council terms and to maintain the current amount of campaign contributions permitted under Article XIII.

Since the Charter of 1926 Council members have been elected for a term of two years. Since 1991 Council members have been limited to serving four consecutive two-year terms. In 1999 voters adopted a charter amendment providing for the direct separate election of the Mayor for a four-year term. Discussions about council members being elected for four-year terms have been ongoing for the past year and a half. Proposals were made by City Council and input from voters and community leaders was solicited. On August 1, 2012, City Council voted to place this amendment for four-year terms on the ballot for voters to decide.

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Arguments For Issue 4 Arguments Against Issue 4
1. Four-year terms would enable greater stability for decision making.

2. Council members would have more time for effective coalition building, enabling them to focus on longer term issues, planning, and follow through.

3. Council members could spend more time on getting things done legislatively and less time on the concerns of fund raising and running for reelection. This amendment would reduce the need for endless campaigning.

4. Elections every four years can reduce the costs of holding elections.

1. Four-year terms could reduce the responsiveness and accountability of council members to citizens and their concerns.

2. Less frequent elections would insulate members of council from effective recourse by citizens in response to unpopular policies.

3. Less frequent elections can reduce the opportunity to get new people and new ideas into the Council races.

4. Less frequent elections could raise campaign expenditures because the "size of the prize" per Council seat will be greater.

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Created: December 17, 2012 13:48 PST
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