Voters said yes Tuesday to all but one of the five proposed city charter amendments.
According to unofficial results from the Cuyahoga County Board of Election, Issue 70 passed 6,456 to 5,190, with 55 percent of the votes; Issue 71 passed 7,121 to 4,398, with 62 percent; Issue 72 was OK’d 7,839 to 4,373, with 64 percent; Issue 73 passed 8,861 to 3,007, with 75 percent and Issue 74 failed 6,394 to 5,907, with 52 percent.
The charter amendments were proposed by the Charter Review Board, chaired by School Board Member Dan Langshaw. Issue 74 and Issue 72 were both described as controversial.
Issue 74, if passed, would have permitted the electorate to pass levies by a majority, 50 percent plus one vote, rather than a super majority of 60 percent at elections other than November general elections.
Law Director Tom Kelly predicted prior to Tuesday’s election that this one would prove to be a hard sell with voters. He was right. There are two strong arguments for and against the issue.
“In a primary, some could say that not enough people turn out and therefore, it’s too easy for the government to pass levies by 50 percent, and that’s why they made it a 60 percent majority in the past,” Kelly has explained. “The other argument is that 41 percent of the people are determining the issue. If 41 percent vote against a levy, and it fails, then that would be government by the minority.”
Langshaw said the charter review’s thinking was that with all the various ways to cast a ballot in today’s day and age – traditional poll voting, mail-in voting and in-person voting at the election board office – voting is more accessible and convenient than ever.
“We thought this change in the charter would make things up to date with the times we live in. When it comes to issues of taxes, with all the modes to vote, the thinking was that people would come out and voice their minds. It’s important that everyone come out and vote for any issue,” he said.
Voters failed this same amendment a few years ago by a slim margin.
The passage of Issue 72 now allows the mayor to serve on regional councils and boards that compensate him nominally for his service. In the past, this was viewed as additional employment and prohibited.
Some local opponents of the issue argued that the mayor’s attendance on such boards would negatively affect his full-time employment and commitment to the city. Mayor Bob Stefanik said that many of these boards only meet once or twice a month and in no way impact mayoral responsibilities at city hall and in the community. He said such representation actually benefits residents immensely by keeping the community in the loop, regionally; giving the city a voice and possibly steering tax dollars North Royalton’s way.
One such regional council Stefanik serves on as an alternate is the District One Public Works Integrating Committee, which deals with Issue 1 grant funding.
“These are things a mayor should be on to bring money back to North Royalton,” Stefanik said. “Any time I have an opportunity to serve on any board that in the long run benefits the residents of the city of North Royalton, I want to be on that board whether I’m compensated or not. It’s about representation, not compensation.”
The three other issues were more housekeeping in nature.
Issue 70 allows council more flexibility when it comes to conducting public hearings and their notifications. Before, council was bound by state statute, which did not conform to North Royalton’s standard notification procedures. Council now has more leeway when it comes to setting parameters.
The passage of Issue 71 now requires executive sessions to be conducted in line with the Ohio Revised Code, which outlines specific dos and don’ts when it comes to these private meetings.
Issue 73 clarified confusing language pertaining to planning commission referrals. The issue specifically tidies wording dealing with mandatory referrals, which are matters that must be referred to the commission.
“If you read the language, it was impossible to understand. This clarifies the language to affirm what the intent and provision has been all along,” Kelly has said.
These amendments were all submitted by the nine-member Charter Review Board, which is appointed by the mayor and council every four years to thoroughly review the charter and determine if it needs updated.
Langshaw said overall he’s pleased with the outcome at the polls.
“As chairman, I appreciate the members’ time and service to their community, and I appreciate the community supporting these changes to the charter. This helps our community continue to move forward and continue with the great things going on in North Royalton.”