Council comments on two failed charter amendments


By Derrick C. Parker



PORTSMOUTH – There were two proposed Charter amendments on the ballot last Tuesday in Portsmouth. Both were struck down by voters.

The first amendment would have changed gendered language in the City Charter so that mentions of officials currently listed as ‘he’ or ‘him’ would be changed to the neutral pronoun of ‘they’ and ‘them’. While ballot language could have been interrupted as a controversial subject centered around gender identity, in reality, the charter amendment was simply supposed to clean up language written into the charter over 60 years ago.

“(This) addresses the language in the charter to change the older ordinances referring to the City Manager and Mayor as ‘he’,” said 2nd Ward Councilwoman Charlotte Gordon. “I feel we should encourage the other half of the population to these positions as well.”

The second amendment would have reformed primary election regulations in the charter and brought it more in line with the Ohio Revised Code. It would have required candidates to collect 50 qualified elector signature prior to the election – no longer requiring those signatures to be collected within 105 days of the primary election.

“This amendment aligns our charter with state language as to the timing a candidate can go out and collect signatures to run for office,” explained Gordon. “It doesn’t favor any one person or party, but it allows for a longer time to collect signatures.”

Gordon, along with Mayor and 1st Ward Councilman Sean Dunne, expressed their disappointment with the charter amendments failing, saying it was due in part to confusing language.

“I received quite a lot of calls with questions about these amendments,” said Dunne. “I don’t think there was anything substantial with those changes – so I think it had to do with clarity.”

“I was disappointing they did not pass,” remarked Gordon. “But I was not surprised. We didn’t do a good job explaining them publicly. When people called me to ask about them, they were for them. But the ballot language was confusing.”

It remains to be seen if council will once again bring these amendments to voters in the future

By Derrick C. Parker