We Can Give Every Neighborhood a Voice in Columbus

The voters of Columbus will have a special election on August 2 to decide whether neighborhoods should have a seat at the table and a voice on city council.

Yes We Can Columbus and Represent Columbus will be working to build support for a "Yes" on Issue 1, because we believe a modern city council system will:

• give all of our neighborhoods a stronger voice on City Council;
• promote more accountability; and
• strengthen neighborhood services

Columbus voters now have a choice whether to keep the current at-large city council system or change to a hybrid city council with a mix of 3 at-large city council members and 10 council members who would be elected from districts or wards.

The proposal emerged because neighborhood leaders and communities didn’t feel like they were being heard at City Hall. Represent Columbus, a coalition of Democratic, Republican, and Independent grassroots leaders, believed that City Council should be accountable to the voters, not corporate lobbyists and wealthy developers.

The group gathered and submitted over 39,000 signatures from Columbus residents in order to get the issue on the ballot. Columbus City Council voted this evening to hold a special election on August 2, so voters can decide.

Yes We Can Columbus supports Issue 1, because we believe it is time to take concrete steps to put power back in the hands of everyday people. We believe a modern city council will give all of us a stronger voice.

Under the new proposal, residents and neighborhoods organizations would have more access to city government. Imagine being able to pick up the phone and call your council representative with an issue. Imagine having a specific council representative who lives in your community and part of their job is to improve your community and be responsive to residents and neighborhood groups.

Neighborhood Area Commissions, civic associations and other neighborhood groups would also be in stronger position to hold their representative accountable. Neighborhood groups could challenge incumbents by running an alternative candidate. The cost to campaign for a district seat is significantly less than a citywide campaign, so neighborhood groups could use that as a strategy if they felt the community's needs were not being adequately addressed.

Currently, local leaders and communities lack the resources to have a voice on city council and hold city council members accountable. It costs nearly $250,000 to win a city council race in Columbus. Leaders from most neighborhoods in Columbus don’t have access to that kind of money.

If we truly want Columbus to be an “opportunity city,” leaders need to have the opportunity to represent their neighborhood on city council and be part of the conversation about the future of our city.

Columbus has over 200 diverse neighborhoods that each have a unique set of opportunities, strengths and challenges. We can have a council that better reflects that diversity. We can transform our democracy to give every community a voice, and bring more accountability to city government.