By Amanda Ensinger
Franklin Township residents once again rejected becoming a limited home rule government.
Residents voted 539 against and 351 for or 61 percent in favor and 39 percent opposed to becoming a limited home rule government, according to the unofficial election results from the Franklin County Board of Elections.
This was the second time voters rejected Franklin Township becoming a limited home rule government. In 2016, voters also opposed becoming a limited home rule government, with 64 percent voting against and 36 percent in favor.
If the township would have become a limited home rule government, it would have given the board power to more quickly enact rules already laid out by Franklin County and the Ohio Revised Code.
During a public meeting, Franklin Township Administrative Assistant Jessica Rice said it would have allowed the township to crack down on nuisances in the community, such as massage parlors, solicitors, overgrown grass and high weeds and a variety of other laws that are currently being violated in the township.
“When people violate laws, limited home rule would just allow us to act a lot faster than the county can,” Rice said.” It also would help us clean up the township faster and deal with the abandon houses we have faster than the county is able to.”
It also would have given the board the authority to offer incentives to businesses to encourage them to come to the township.
“We could have offered businesses a tax incentive to come to Franklin Township instead of Columbus or Prairie Township,” said Aryeh Alex, newly elected township trustee. “This would have allowed us to compete and empowered us to start moving forward so we don’t get gobbled up by Columbus.”
However, not all the township trustees supported becoming a limited home rule government. Trustee Don Cook, who supported becoming a limited home rule government in 2016 and voted in favor of adding it to the ballot in 2017, changed his mind in the middle of campaigning. Cook said he opposed becoming a limited home rule government now because he was worried about the abuse of power.
“After hearing some of the things I heard, I was worried that resident’s property rights were going to be taken away,” Cook said. “I think residents rejected this because they don’t want to give the trustees that much power and they were worried about abuse of power.”
Trustee John Fleshman said he would like to add this to the ballot again in the future and is optimistic it will pass.
“I believe with a new board, we can regroup on this and show we are unified and strong,” Fleshman said. “I would like to revisit this and put this back on the ballot in the future.”
Trustee Ralph Horn said that he believes the biggest reason limited home rule didn’t pass was because residents were still confused on the benefits of becoming a limited home rule government.
“It would have been an opportunity to do a few good things for the township and enhance our business situation,” Horn said. “I think some people campaigning against it was detrimental, but I also think there should have been more of a commitment to get information out about it.”
Horn also said that he thinks the township should have waited more time before putting it on the ballot again, saying that putting it on the ballot back-to-back years was not a good tactic.