YOUR SIDE: The Readers Take Over

Asking for charter commission support

To the editor:

Please vote “Yes” for the formation of a Charter Commission in Salem. Creating the Charter Commission will enable the citizens of Salem to officially examine the organization of Salem’s government to determine if it could be better. After learning more about the issue, we have decided to step forward and put our names on the ballot to help with the process of considering a charter for Salem.

Here are just a few of the things we have learned:

— Over 100 years ago the State of Ohio Constitution was changed to allow cities, villages and counties to form their own charters which is just a document that describes the elected and management positions in a city, village or county. Since then, over 260 cities and villages have created their own charters. Salem never did so we have what the law tells us we must have, and we are not convinced it is the best we can be. What we have today is good, but this is about Salem’s future and maintaining what is good and changing what is not. A “Yes” vote allows Salem citizens to look into it.

— The State of Ohio has a process written into law that requires a ballot issue to create a Charter Commission before we can even officially consider whether a charter would be right for our town or not. Once a commission is formed, they typically create a charter document that is then distributed to all voters for review.

In reality, the commission could choose not to pursue a charter at all. Next year the voters decide if they want to adopt the charter. Nothing changes because of this current vote, it just allows 15 people to get together to review, debate, and develop a charter. This vote is not for the charter, it’s just to form the commission.

— There are many forms of government available to cities. We can have exactly what we have today with all elected officials, or we can have a mix of elected officials and hired managers. In fact, 58 percent of Ohio charter cities chose a mayor and council structure like we have now. With more than 260 other charters in Ohio to examine for what’s worked well in other areas over the past 100 years, we have a good body of experience that can help us craft what could be best for Salem. We can see where charters have increased transparency, efficiency, or accountability in local government.

— If a Charter Commission is formed, as an elected commission it must meet in open session. Commission members are regular citizens and are non-partisan (not voted based on political party) and will talk with neighbors, city employees, organizations around town – they will gather information at-large to get input to determine what might be best for Salem.

— If a city adopts a charter, there is a process to transition elected positions into new positions (regular city employees are not affected). The charter would also have to describe how it is amended over time with a vote of the citizens. Right now, we cannot change anything with our government until a charter is in place. Charters give the local citizens flexibility and the most control over their own government.

— We only see good in a “Yes” vote to form a commission to talk. There are plenty of communities around us (Columbiana, Canfield, East Palestine) and across the state that have already gone through the process and we have been impressed with what we see. Isn’t it worth it to look into it for Salem? Why wouldn’t we want to consider how our town might work better? Please vote “Yes” for the Charter Commission.

Greg Acuri, Jock Buta,

Meta Cramer, Kyle Cranmer,

Tom Eddinger, Mark Flake,

Karl Getzinger, Ginger Grilli, Rick Lutsch, Dee McFarland,

Audrey Null, George Spack,

Eloise Traina, Dennis Weaver,

Frank Zamarelli

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