Reynoldsburg voters wont see primary issue on ballot

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 Messenger photo by Lori Smith
Members of the Reynoldsburg Charter Review Commission, from left, Norm Brusk, Susie Lyday, Chairman Nathan Burd and Tom Drabick, were recognized July 23 for their efforts. The committee, which has met since spring, made several recommendations about charter changes to be placed on the ballot. Commission members not pictured are Donald Hallowes and Leslie Kelly.

Partisan primary elections for mayor, city council and other offices will continue in Reynoldsburg, after City Council decided July 23 against placing a proposed charter amendment on the November ballot.  

Council was split 4-3 on legislation allowing voters to decide whether to eliminate the partisan primary.

William Hills, president of council, said the city charter requires five affirmative votes from council for a proposed charter change to proceed to the ballot.

"The ordinance is not accepted for passage," he declared.

Under the proposal, everyone – regardless of their party affiliation – would run in the spring primary.

The two top vote-getters in one-on-one races would proceed to face off in the general election. On the ballot, candidates would not have "R" or "D" next to their names, and independents would run in the primary instead of automatic inclusion in the general election.

The proposed charter amendment also included language canceling the primary election if no primary election is necessary due to a lack of candidates or issues on the ballot.

Prior to the vote, resident Brett Luzader encouraged members of council to let the voters decide the issue. He said council asked the Charter Review Commission to make recommendations for changes, and voters should have the last word.

"I urge you to put your personal opinions aside … and let the residents decide," he said. "After all, it is their charter."

Council members Donna Shirey, Ron Stake, Preston Stearns and Brett Baxter voted in support of putting it in the hands of voters.

"I’ve thought long and hard about this," Stake said. "I think the voters of this city ought to decide this issue."

Stearns added, "The citizens of Reynoldsburg do deserve an opportunity to vote on this issue."

Without discussion, council unanimously agreed to put three other charter changes on the November ballot. They include clarifying language allowing the city attorney to work on private legal matters that do not conflict with city business; permitting the council president pro tem to sign or veto emergency legislation when the mayor or council president are not available; and requiring those who serve on a commission with ward boundaries to be residents and registered voters.

In other news, council heard a presentation regarding volunteers from Paul Walsh, director of the Parks and Recreation Department. He noted July is national parks and recreation month, and a reception for the volunteers was held prior to the council meeting.

"There are a lot of volunteers in our community who help in a lot of different ways," he said. "Our volunteers include moms and dads, families, seniors, children and teens."

Members of a variety of different professions are also represented, he noted.  "They’re a very diverse group."

He said 823 volunteers have contributed 26,653 hours of service over the last year.

"How do you place a value on volunteer service?" he asked, estimating that if the volunteers were paid for the efforts it would cost the city at least $266,530 a year.

"Our programs either would not exist or they would be so expensive people could not afford to participate in them … We would like to have everyone acknowledge our volunteers," he said.

Hills added, "We thank you for what you do and we sincerely appreciate the volunteers for what they do."

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