Anti-fracking charter amendment to be on Nov. 4 ballot in Youngstown

By David Skolnick


The anti-fracking Community Bill of Rights charter amendment will be in front of Youngstown voters for the fourth time.

The Mahoning County Board of Elections certified Tuesday that the citizen initiative has the required signatures to be on the Nov. 4 ballot.

The Community Bill of Rights committee submitted petitions with 2,058 signatures.

The board determined 1,447 of the signatures are valid. The committee needed at least 1,216 valid signatures to get the proposal on the ballot.

“We’re pleased with the certification,” said Susie Beiersdorfer, a committee member. “We’re going again. There’s no one protecting our air and property rights, so the community members have to do it.”

The voting results get closer each time, but the proposal has failed three times.

In May 2013, it lost by 13.7 percentage points. It lost by 9.7 percentage points in November 2013, and by 8.3 percentage points in May 2014.

When told the proposal was back on the ballot, Butch Taylor, business manager for Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 396, said, “Unbelievable, but we’ll continue to work to indicate the positive things we’re doing with this industry and promoting it.”

The proposal would ban fracking in Youngstown even though opponents and state officials say that isn’t enforceable, as those decisions are made by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

Also, fracking isn’t occurring in Youngstown, but Beiersdorfer says the proposal allows citizens “to allow what businesses can come into the city.”

Taylor said, “Businesses are here for an opportunity. If you stop businesses affiliated with [fracking], you’ll stop a lot of opportunities.”

Also, the board of elections certified two other Youngstown charter amendments Tuesday.

The amendments were approved Aug. 20 by city council as legislation. Charter amendments proposed by city council aren’t subject to collecting signatures on petitions.

One proposal would combine the economic-development and community-development offices.

The other would make the proposed superintendent of code enforcement and blight remediation an unclassified position, hired by and serving at the pleasure of the mayor.

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