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Local News

Fall Ballot Issues May Include Changes To Campaign Financing, Council Terms

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Jay Hanselman
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WVXU
Democratic Council Member David Mann is sworn in at City Hall in 2013 for a four-year term, a limit that could change come November.

Cincinnati voters could see several city charter amendments on the November ballot.

A council committee discussed a number of proposals Tuesday and is likely to vote on some of them when it meets again July 31.  

One that seems to have broad support deals with campaign finance. It would include contributions from limited liability companies (LLC) toward individuals with a $1,100 donation limit to city candidates.  

Alice Schneider is with the Women's City Club and supports the LLC proposal.

"They can contribute a lot of money," Schneider said. "So we applaud the effort to put this on the ballot and to limit what the LLCs can do. Hopefully this will keep politicians accountable to ordinary citizens and not monied interests."

Right now a person can make an individual gift of $1,100, and if he or she has multiple LLCs, each of those firms can write checks for $1,100.

Council Terms Could Change

Another charter proposal could be staggered, four-year terms for city council members.  

Right now, they serve four years and are all elected at the same time.  

Council member Greg Landsman said he's heard public support for staggering members' terms. He explained how it could work in 2021, the next time there's a city council election.

"There would essentially be some candidates who were running for a two-year term, and four of those people would be elected," Landsman said. "And then some candidates would be running for a four-year term and five of those candidates would be elected."

Another proposal to stagger the terms could be the top five finishers serve four-year terms, and the last four get two-year terms. In either case, by 2023, everyone would be elected to a four-year term.

Council Could Hold Closed Sessions

Another proposed charter amendment would let city council hold executive, or closed, sessions consistent with state law.

Council member David Mann supports that.

"Although we used to have the right to executive sessions, because of what I think was corky legal decision that wasn't appealed, we don't have the right to have an executive session about anything," Mann said.

Executive sessions allow private talks about personnel, legal matters and contract discussions.

Six council members must vote "yes" to place charter amendments on the ballot.

If any measure doesn't get six voters, supporters of that measure could petition signatures to place it on the ballot.