Committee turns in petitions for elections charter amendment

By David Skolnick


A committee seeking to change how elections are run in Youngstown turned in petitions to the city clerk to get the measure in front of voters in November.

The Youngstown Community Bill of Rights Committee submitted the petitions Monday with 1,947 signatures, said Ray Beiersdorfer, a committee spokesman. The committee is also backing an anti-fracking charter amendment – for the seventh time – on the November ballot. The proposal needs at least 1,259 valid signatures to qualify for the ballot.

Both proposals need the approval of city council and the Mahoning County Board of Elections to be placed in front of voters Nov. 7.

The elections charter amendment would, if approved, eliminate political-party primaries, replacing them with nonpartisan ones in which the top two vote getters face each other in the November general election.

“It’s a step in the right direction in terms of opening up elections to all voters,” said Beiersdorfer. “This way we have a run off rather than having some races decided in the Democratic primary.”

The proposal also would restrict political contributions to only $100 per ballot measure and candidate with those funds coming from only registered city voters. It would ban corporations, labor unions, political action committees, political parties and “all other campaign funding entities” from giving campaign contributions.

Detractors have said the contribution restrictions could conflict with free-speech issues and campaign-contribution court decisions.

The charter amendment proposal would also allow city residents to “speak openly at all public government meetings without having to register or seek permission at any public meeting of the local elected government officials including all [city council] committee meetings and work sessions,” according to its language.

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