Three Cincinnati Council members were charged with creating pay-to-play schemes with a developer last year and elected officials have been scrambling to reinstall the public's trust in governance since then. But the Charter Party — which is comprised of Republicans, Democrats and Independents — is launching an entire platform centered around corruption reform and transparency.
Matt Woods, president of the local Charter Committee, says, "It's kind of our mantra that there isn't a Republican or a Democratic way of filling a pothole — there's a Cincinnati way. And so, really, our construct is that we're Republicans and Democrats, but we're really here for the good of the city and for good governance."
He said the Charter Party dates to around 100 years ago when legendary local politician Boss Cox used cronyism and bribes to make changes in the city. In the early 1920s, Woods says, the Charter Party proposed a city manager form of government to keep elected officials from corruptly wielding their power. The party took hold of local politics for a few decades before their influence dwindled. But in the '70s and '80s, the Charter Party shared local governance power with Democrats until the latter declined to continue their working relationship, according to WVXU's Howard Wilkinson.
But that city manager-run vision of governance is still central to the party's newly launched platform.
Woods said their "Reform Ticket" focuses on three points: returning to a city manager driven form of governance; reforming transparency to give the public a 60-day review period before the city budget is passed; and implementing an effective community engagement policy.
Their platform, Woods said, can start playing a role locally as soon as this year. He said the party plans to launch a Charter slate for the upcoming local elections. Regardless of political affiliation, anyone can potentially get an endorsement if they align with party values.
"Hopefully, upcoming in November, we'll put together the best council we've seen in decades. Hopefully, we'll get the right candidates. And, again, it's not about Democrats or Republicans. It's about putting together the best public servants we can," he said.
Woods will be talking more about the Charter Party's "Reform Ticket" on Cincinnati Edition Wednesday at noon on 91.7 WVXU/88.5 WMUB.