What is "at-large" voting?
At-large voting is a very rare form of election in American big cities, where all council members are elected in citywide elections, rather in council districts. The 'average" American top 50 city has 13 council members: 2 elected at-large and 11 elected by district. Columbus is the only top 25 city that retains the archaic all at-large council that came to be popular back in the late 1800's (Columbus's all at-large format was adopted in 1914 -- prior to that the city had 19 council members, 16 elected by ward).
Didn't we just vote on this?
Yes -- kind of. On August 2, 2016 a citizen group called Represent Columbus put a citizen-initiated charter amendment on the ballot that simply sought to change the size and composition of council. It was the first time in 100 years that citizens had ever successfully initiated a vote on the charter , and the entrenched politicians and business interests launched a $1.1 million lie-filled, deceitful campaign and flooded the airwaves with false, negative misinformation that fooled a lot of voters. You may remember ads claiming Issue 1 created $80,000 a year jobs for part-time council members -- in fact, Issue 1 did nothing to change council's pay or current part-time status. A large number of people simply did not know what they were really voting on. This time, Everyday People for Positive Change is spending more time educating voters to prepare them for the onslaught of lies that entrenched defenders of the status quo will undoubtedly spread.
Everyday People for Positive Change is putting forward a more robust proposal that changes size and composition, but also addresses the scandalous mid=term appointment process, reduces barriers to political competition, breaks the lock on elections the two political parties have held, puts term limits in place, and puts real caps on contributions to campaigns for the first time ever in Columbus. This is the type of robust change designed to create responsive government by ensuring people get fair and competitive elections.
Who Is Funding Change and Who Is Funding the Opposition to Issue 1?
The biggest funder of Issue 1 was a nonprofit corporation, the Columbus Compact Corporation, which was charged from 1995-2010 with leading the city's HUD-designated Enterprise Community and Empowerment Zones to revitalize the most distressed areas of the city. 15 years of working on the city's hardest problems convinced this nonprofit led by neighborhood residents that political change was needed to break the stalemate in our neighborhoods.
The opponents to change have been big business, led by members of the so-called "Columbus Partnership": LBrands, Nationwide Insurance, AEP, Wolfe Enterprises, etc. along with the city elected officials whose campaigns they fund. We expect them to oppose the Everyday People for Positive Change initiative because we seek to break the corrupting influence of corporate funding of political campaigns -- making politicians responsive to everyday people, rather than corporate titans.
What Barriers are the Power Elites Putting Up?
The entrenched politicians don't like citizens being involved in determining what gets on the ballot. So now they are trying to block Everyday People from putting caps on political contributions into this ballot issue, under the false cover of a "single subject" limitation. Courts have consistently ruled that single subject provisions are designed to keep unnatural combinations of different things from the same ballot, and they have affirmed that as long as different subjects are "reasonably related" to the same general object or purpose ther is no violation of single subject. To try to keep this off the ballot, the City Attorney (Rick Pfeiffer) has somehow decided that funding of elections is not reasonably related to council elections. We have asked each council member to reject that wrongheaded, political opinion -- to date (months later after this writing) not a single council person will comment on whether they think how we fund elections is not reasonably related to the council elections we seek to change. A silent corruption runs rampant in this city, which seeks to control everyday citizens and which we seek to change.