The Cincinnati Enquirer from Cincinnati, Ohio on October 27, 1991 · Page 19
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The Cincinnati Enquirer from Cincinnati, Ohio · Page 19

Cincinnati, Ohio
Issue Date:
Sunday, October 27, 1991
Page 19
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Sunday, October 27, 1991 THE CINCINNATI ENQUIRER MetroB-7 3 issues could transform city council selection BY HOWARD WILKINSON The Cincinnati Enquirer Cincinnatians will need to read the fine print when they go to the polls Nov. 5. They will be faced with sorting out some city charter amendment issues that, if passed, will mean radical changes in the way city council is elected and who can be elected to it. There are three that could have the greatest impact: Issue 6, the charter amendment that would do away with the at-large elections for city council and return proportional representation (PR). Cincinnati voters ended the system 34 years ago, but its time, its backers say, has come again. Issue 5, the term-limitation proposal put on the ballot through a petition drive organized by Councilman Nick Vehr. It would limit council members to four consecutive two-year terms. Issue 4, an "anti-term limit" proposal backed by Mayor David Mann, as an alternative to Issue 5. With the growing fervor in state after state for congressional term limitation, Issue 5 has drawn the most attention, and the most heat. "It's just a crass attempt by the Republicans to get rid of Democratic officeholders in a city that elects Democrats to city council," Timothy Burke, chairman of the Cincinnati Democratic Committee, said in a recent interview. Vehr, a Republican appointed to council last year, said he proposed term limits because council "needs a new infusion of fresh blood, new ideas." Without term limits, Vehr argues, incumbents become entrenched and build up huge advantages in fund raising and the ability to attract attention. 4 veterans affected If Issue 5 is passed, it will have a direct effect on four veteran council members, three of them Democrats Mann, Vice Mayor Peter Strauss and John Mirlisena and independent Republican Guy Guck-enberger, whose Republican party endorsement was taken away two years ago. All of them are expected to win re-election. But if Issue 5 passes, they won't be able to run again in 1993 and would have to wait four years before they could run for council again. "I don't think this issue would have ever been brought up if it had been three Republican council members' oxes who were being gored," Strauss said. The Hamilton County Republican Party has endorsed Issue 5; the Democratic Party and the Charter Committee oppose it. Eugene Ruehlmann, the former Cincinnati mayor who is Republican party chairman, said he does not see Issue 5 in partisan terms. A legal opinion from the city solicitor's office has said that if both Issue 4 and Issue 5 are passed, the one that gets the most votes will be adopted. In addition to deciding the term-limit issue, Cincinnati voters will have their second chance in four years to go back to PR, the vote-distribution system that Cincinnati used from the late 1920s until voters rejected it in 1957. Since 1957, Cincinnati has been electing nine council members every two years from a field of candidates who run at large throughout the city. Cincinnati defeated a return to PR in the November, 1988, election. PR based on ranking PR, its proponents in the Charter Committee say, is a way to increase minority representation on council and reduce the spiraling costs of running for office. Preelection finance reports filed Thursday showed candidates for council had already raised $875,000. . Under PR, voters rank their nine choices for council. After a candidate reaches a preset quota of first-place votes needed for election, his or her excess first-place votes are distributed to other candidates down the line, until nine candidates reach the quota. Many cities have dropped the system, but it is still in use for local elections in Cambridge, Mass., and for the community school boards in New York City. Its opponents say the vote distribution process is too complicated. In the days when PR was used in Cincinnati, it would sometimes take a week to know the results of a council election. Proponents say computer programs would eliminate that problem. "There is nothing complicated about it for the voter," said Marian Spencer, former Charterite councilwoman. "Anyone who can count from one to nine can understand PR." A quota of first-place votes is what makes PR a good system for electing black or female candidates, PR proponents say. If 100,000 people vote in a council election and the quota is set at 10,000 first-place votes, that means any candidate who has the support of at least 10 of the voters has a chance at winning. "There will be diversity under a PR system," Spencer said. "Any group that can corral that many votes deserves a representative on council," Spencer said. But Ruehlmann said there's a major problem with PR and with a district-election system, the much-discussed alternative. "Under the present system, an elected official has to be responsible to all the people of Cincinnati, not just a small segment." "It is a question of leadership by council in recent years; and there is a definite feeling among Cincinnatians that council lacks leadership," Ruehlmann said. "It is time for change." What makes the term-limitation debate more complicated is Issue 4 on the Nov. 5 ballot. The proposed charter change, sponsored by Mann, would put language in the city charter saying that any qualified elector can run for council "without regard" to past service in other words, no term limits. Vehr has called Mann's proposal a political ploy aimed at confusing voters. Its ballot position means voters will vote on Issue 4 first; some may confuse it with Vehr's proposal. "I never dreamed until (Issue 5) was proposed that the city charter would ever have to speak to the issue," Mann said. "But I don't think Nick's vague wording about term limits ought to be the only item up for discussion. There needs to be an alternative." Of? I si " 1 To make the system more fair, there must be greater balance with development of the two segments of the city. We can't ignore downtown, but more emphasis should be placed on growth in the neighborhoods. What the neighborhoods need is some cooperation from the city on the various projects they have. I don't mind the city spending money on downtown. My problem is when we are left with nothing to show for it. Election Day is Nov. 5, and The Enquirer s ' I spotlighting the 26 candidates seeking a seat on : Cincinnati City Council and the issues that will : confront them. In previous weeks, candidates . have discussed the environment and affordable : housing. Today, we ask candidates, "If elected, what would you do to balance the economic : development interests of downtown with those of : the neighborhoods?" 31 Jay Andress Republican William M. Al'uqdah Republican , (J t IMMIjlllll. llHpilM,l,l S . . . 4 H, '. " . a v r.t , The neighborhoods have some legitimate gripes about what's going into downtown. What concerns me is what has been wasted downtown. Neighborhood people are concerned that downtown is no longer the central attraction, no longer the center of theaters, restaurants and entertainment. People don't have a problem with downtown development, but there is a sense that we must have a better apparatus in place to help downtown than the neighborhoods. We have to make a better effort to balance the interests. The city is updating the Year 2000 Plan for downtown, but there is no plan for the future of Cincinnati's neighborhoods. A Anita F. Bolce Independent Mary Ann Brown Republican Richard L. Buchanan Democrat Chaunston Brown Democrat Everybody wants a piece of the pie; and the city is ignoring the rest of the pie that is on the table. There are resources enough for everybody. It is just a matter of the city setting priorities. I'd like to see the balance shift a little bit more toward neighborhoods. We must revitalize the neighborhood business districts and develop them the way we've developed downtown. Balance is needed. I don't think that the attention to downtown in recent years has pulled money away from our neighborhoods. But there can be more progress in both areas if council works harder. '''' fj t - " aO ;w L We need to do a better job of working with our neighborhoods. We need to look at neighborhood business districts differently and consider innovative ideas to spur neighborhood development. X id m i .v.. .oik r John Cheng Independent James Cissell Republican Len Garrett Republican Guy C. Guckenberger Independent ! Amj4i mil People in the neighborhoods aren't being given respect at City Hall for what their problems are. ! "I1 There has been an unbalanced focus on development to the detriment of neighborhoods. We must balance that out because without decent neighborhoods, our population will decrease. I'd like to see one big department control both downtown and neighborhood development. It's not fair that our downtown develops while the neighborhoods lay stagnant. We need better development control. Voters: Balance funding To familiarize voters with the 26 candidates for Cincinnati City Council who will appear on this year's ballot, The Enquirer will print their photos and a brief position statement each Sunday before the Nov. 5 election. Today, the candidates discuss economic development (see chart at left). BY RICHARD GREEN The Cincinnati Enquirer At community forums and town meetings, candidates for Cincinnati City Council are being told in simple terms: Strike a balance between the economic development of downtown and the city's neighborhoods. The biennial debate over how much money is spent in the two areas is nothing new. But this year, economic development is a key consideration for voters who will elect nine people to council Nov. 5. , Beset with a sagging population, Cincinnati is watching its suburban neighbors from Clermont and Warren counties to Northern Kentucky enjoy an unprecedented flurry of economic good news. New shopping centers are popping up in Clermont County's East-gate market. Companies, such as-Procter & Gamble, are building corporate offices and research and development operations in Warren County. And growth around the CincinnatiNorthern Kentucky International Airport is booming as more and more tenants fill the office and industrial parks in the region. "There's always somebody out there who is competing with us either other cities in our region or our suburban rivals," said Marty Griesel, who is in charge of downtown projects at the city's Economic Development Department. "Economic development is always an issue. It's important for the city to reinvest in its economic community." As in years past, candidates are hearing from community leaders that downtown is flourishing at the expense of the city's neighborhoods. "We hear it every year, but I'm not necessarily sure that that's true," said Democratic Councilman Peter Strauss, chairman of council's Urban Development Committee. "I certainly think we can do more to provide growth both in jobs, commercial development and housing in our neighborhoods. But I think most of us feel we've tried to create a balance between the two." Some neighborhood groups are not so sure. "Sometimes it seems that the city's neighborhoods get lost in the shuffle," said Gloria Morgan of the East Price Hill Improvement Association. "We see all the growth going on downtown and see all the dollars headed that way. We wonder: What is council doing for us?" Griesel said he is certain that of the $13 million earmarked specifically for economic development in the city's 1991 general fund, more money was spent in the neighborhoods than downtown. He said it's easy to see where dollars are spent downtown, but more difficult when money is distributed to 50-plus neighborhoods. We must make progress on both fronts. The new jobs we can create in the neighborhood business districts are just as good as new ones created downtown. We need to do all we can to create more of them everywhere. i : - John Mirlisena Democrat David Mann Democrat Claudia Miller Independent Dennis L. Maxberry Independent '"i ..'.'.'. I We have to start addressing the needs of the people of this city and not just big business. Big business can take care of itself. We must manage the resources we invest in downtown and in the neighborhoods to maximize their impact and leverage private dollars. Downtown is important, but we cannot forget about our neighborhoods. Greater attention must be paid to them if they are to flourish with the rest of the city. We need to initiate a process that targets the neighborhoods specifically. We have someone in charge of downtown development. We need to do the same for the neighborhoods. t Vi wt- Shirley Rosser Democrat Virginia Rhodes Democrat Roxanne Quails Democrat , Todd O'Neal Independent We don't do as well with the creation and maintenance of neighborhood business districts as we should. Housing and infrastructure has been maintained, but we need to do more to generate jobs. 1 v. J I V V f s - When you look at the blight in some neighborhoods, you know there is an imbalance. Whether or not the city should be in the downtown development business is a good question. If we are, we'd better be good at it. We've always really had a balance, but the money that's invested in the city's neighborhoods is not as visible as the things we've been able to do in a compact downtown. We must pay attention to both segments' needs. Downtown is the cash cow for the entire city. I support a budget that allocates enough money for downtown to maintain its growth. But a major portion must also go to neighborhoods to improve their qualiy of life and create jobs. -- - - Bobbie Sterne Charterite Nell Surber Republican Peter Strauss Democrat Val Sena Charterite There's a tug-6f-war between downtown interests and everybody else. The wisest course may be to de-emphasize downtown and put , greater emphasis on Riverfront West. ( m The relationship is symbiotic - what's good for downtown Is good for the neighborhoods. The revenue that is created downtown supplements many, if not all, of the programs council supports in the neighborhoods. I don't think we spend too much on our downtown; that is the heart and soul of our city. But we must find additional dollars for our neighborhoods. If we can eliminate some of the waste in government, that money will be available. It's not a question of sacrificing one for the other. The neighborhoods and downtown are not mutually exclusive of one another. But we must find a way to assist small businesses In the neighborhoods. They're crucial to our vitality. Tyrone K. Yates Charterite Nick Vehr Republican Martin Wade Republican I - Dwight Tillery Democrat

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