Johnson calls for passage of Charter amendments

First Ward City Councilman Kevin W. Johnson has sent a letter to the Daily Times calling for voters in the city’s six wards to vote for passage of three Charter amendments.

Johnson said in June of 1996, a Charter Review Committee appointed by City Council recommended a number of changes to Portsmouth’s city charter. Unfortunately, that City Council did not proceed to present any of the proposed changes to the voters for their approval or disapproval.

“Back in 2013, I began presenting a number of these recommendations to council for their consideration. Nearly all were accepted and beginning on November 5 of that year the voters began approving these recommendation,” Johnson said in his letter to the Times. “On the March 15 ballot this year are the final two 1996 Charter Review Committee recommendations approved by council for voter consideration plus one other that I drafted for council approval. I recommend the following to you.”

The first, Johnson said, calls for the City Council to appoint a Charter Review Committee not less than every ten years for the purpose of reviewing and/or recommending amendments to the charter. The committee would be made up by one appointment by each member of council; representing each of the six wards. In that manner, the charter may be reviewed in light of changing requirements by the city and/or its citizens; or recommend no changes whatsoever.

“Reviewing our charter at least once per decade, as many other home rule cities in Ohio do, shall ensure that our charter is up-to-date and reflects the management and societal needs of our city and citizens,” Johnson said.

The second is a minor change to reflect that the current Department of Finance and Audits does no auditing. Thus, it is recommended that it be simply the Department of Finance.

The final recommended ordinance is in response to a recent election in which voters in the Sixth Ward were allowed two votes in the 2015 primary election for Sixth Ward City Council. Johnson said such is normally only allowed when there are two positions available and more than two candidates but it had never before occurred when there was but one position available and multiple candidates. He said that proposed ordinance will ensure that in future city elections for members of council or any other city elected position, only one of the listed candidates may be voted upon in a primary election wherein there are multiple candidates.

By Frank Lewis

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Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.