I wrote about the Greater Cincinnati Charter Committee for about 40 of its 97 years of existence; and, after all these years, the Chartists get cranky when I call them in the print media a “political party”.
Charter is, of course, the organization founded in 1924 to bring down decades of incompetent and corrupt government by political bosses and into the era of the board-manager form of government. The council-manager form of government, beaten and besieged as it is, exists to this day.
The Chartists prefer this rather long title to be called a political party: An independent political organization dedicated to good government.
In my mind, a political organization that has supported and promoted lists of candidates for Cincinnati City Council – and sometimes for other offices – is a political party, but they are, of course, free to call themselves what they are. wish.
Over the years, the fortune of the Charter Committee has increased and decreased on several occasions. But, in 2021, his leadership sees an opportunity to reestablish itself as a major presence at city hall – mainly due to scandals and indictments that have given city council a reputation as a breeding ground for corruption.
This year, under the leadership of a new president, Darrick Dansby, Charter is diversifying.
So far in this municipal election season, Charter has:
- backed a candidate in a three-person race for an unexpired term in Hamilton County Municipal Court;
- speak out against number 3, the gigantic eight-part, all-or-nothing Charter amendment that would bring about serious changes in the way city council works;
- endorsed a very diverse slate of eight council candidates, in a difficult situation where Democratic candidates were told they could not agree to a Charter cross-endorsement.
With only one current board member vying this year who has been elected before – Democrat Greg Landsman – there are plenty of breakthrough opportunities for the massive field of 35 candidates.
Charter, it seems, is in a good position to win a few seats on the new nine-member city council.
The Charter list includes:
- Two former charter board members to Jim Tarbell and Kevin Flynn, both recognized throughout town.
- Two Republicans – Steve Goodin and Liz Keating – who were appointed to council seats when the indicted council members stepped down.
- And four first-time contenders – Jackie Frondorf, whose family is well known in Westwood, the city’s largest neighborhood; Bill Frost, originally from England and an engineer who served as chairman of the Pleasant Ridge Community Council; Galen G. Gordon, an activist from the West End who is the sales manager at the Hilton Netherland Plaza Downtown; and John J. Williams, a lawyer who spent the first 12 years of his career in the city’s notary’s office.
“It’s a good, diverse slate,” Dansby said.
Election of board members is the top priority, but Dansby said the charter committee is very concerned about question 3 and is calling for a “no” vote on all of the charter changes proposed by the rep. state Tom Brinkman, who is also a Republican candidate for council. .
Number 3 would make drastic changes in the way the board does business. This would do:
- ensure that the salaries of council members are equal to the median household income in the city. This would mean a drop in salary from $ 65,000 per year to about $ 46,000;
- require council approval of all lawsuits brought by the city;
- the designated replacement, which has been used to fill vacant board positions since the 1920s, whereby board members choose one or more other board members to choose their replacement, is said to have disappeared;
- if a board member resigns or otherwise leaves the board, their place will go to 10e place finisher in the last council campaign;
- eliminate the “pocket veto” of the mayor, where the mayor can choose never to put an item on the council’s agenda or even assign it to a committee;
- require a one-year residency in the city to serve as mayor or council member;
- allow individual liability of city employees for certain violations of public meetings and violations of the law on public documents;
- allow the mayor’s dismissal.
When I spoke to Dansby about it, he did not specifically say whether there were any sections of the Charter amendment with which he and the Charter Committee disagreed.
“It’s not about the problems, it’s about the process,” Dansby said. “It was developed without any input from the community, without any public discussion of the issues.
“It’s a very dangerous thing to have so many amendments in one ballot,” Dansby said. “This is not the way it should be done. Voters should not be forced to vote all or nothing. I cannot support eight major charter changes in one fell swoop.”
Dansby said he believed it all had to do with Brinkman, who gathered more than 4,600 signatures from Cincinnati voters to put number 3 on the ballot.
“It’s just a move by Mr. Brinkman to advance his own candidacy,” Dansby said. “And I don’t like to hear him call him ‘the Brinkman Amendment.’ I don’t want to advertise him. Just call him what he is – Number 3.”
The Hamilton County Republican Party Executive Committee approved Question 3. The Hamilton County Democratic Party has taken no formal action, but party leaders are clearly opposed, as a number of Prominent local Democrats have gone to the Ohio Supreme Court in an unsuccessful attempt to prevent the number 3 from being put on the ballot.
Dansby said he was not sure how his approved board candidates were presenting themselves at No. 3.
“We allow our candidates to have their own perspective on the issues,” Dansby said.
This is certainly not the first time that the Charter Committee has taken a stand for or against a ballot issue, but if you combine that with their rather impressive roster of council candidates and the fact that they are involved in a Race to the municipal court, we are definitely seeing a version of the Charter much more aggressive than it has been in recent years.
Last week, Charter lent her support to Elizabeth A. Tye, a North Avondale attorney who worked as both a prosecutor and defense attorney, for the remaining term in District 2 of the City Court of Hamilton County.
Tye has two opponents in the race – incumbent Republican Bertha Garcia Helmick, who was appointed to the vacant municipal court post in April, and attorney Donte Johnson, the Democratic Party-backed candidate for Hamilton County. Tye is also a Democrat, but Johnson has won party support.
Dansby said Tye “has an incredible amount of experience in the legal system and, for Charter, was clearly the best choice of the three. He’s a dynamic person.”
The new chairman of Charter, a real estate agent involved with Charter for seven years, said he “focuses on bringing young people to Charter; and people who don’t necessarily just vote for a party line. We need to diversify our base and reach the 52 neighborhoods. “
Dansby itself represents something new for Charter.
Throughout its history, Charter has consistently led and supported the Black Cincinnatians – from Ted Berry and Marian Spencer to Tyrone Yates and Yvette Simpson.
But, in 97 years of existence, Charter never had an African-American president until Dansby arrived earlier this year.
“The history of this organization has been great,” said Dansby. “And I’m very proud to be a part of it.”
Already, the new president of Charter is signaling his presence. The Charter is once again a force in city politics.
Don’t call it a political party.