Youngstown voters will consider three charter amendments on the ballot

Fracking issue on ballot for 8th time

By David Skolnick


City voters will see three charter amendments on the Nov. 6 ballot, including one that’s there for the eighth time.

Called the “Youngstown Drinking Water Protection Bill of Rights,” the proposal would ban fracking and forbid city government to use water and wastewater funds for private economic development projects. It’s failed seven other times.

Also on the ballot are proposals to eliminate term limits for city council members and for council president.

Regarding the water proposal, Lynn Anderson, a member of the Committee for the Community Bills of Rights, which backs the issue, said: “It will keep the city livable and keep the city’s population healthy. Our state has sold out to the fracking industry, so the city needs to be protected.”

State law gives jurisdiction over fracking to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

Nick Santucci, Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber’s director of education and workforce development, said: “The impact of this charter amendment would affect potential new development opportunities for the Youngstown market, such as the expansion that is taking place at [Youngstown State University] including the new MVICC [Mahoning Valley Innovation and Commercialization Center] facility, potential hotel openings and parks that are under construction, as well as future opportunities.”

Santucci, who is a member of the Mahoning Valley Coalition for Job Growth, which opposes the proposal, added: “These types of proposals continue to cost the city and county taxpayers dollars to fight every year, and the citizens are frustrated that these resources are not then being used for needed improvements in other areas of the community.”

But Anderson said the proposal is “not a choice between jobs and clean water. This is not a job killer.”

The charter amendment has failed seven times since 2013.

“It’s hideous that it keeps going down,” Anderson said. “It’s so ridiculous.”

The two other charter amendment proposals on the ballot would eliminate term limits for city council members and for council president.

Council members, who back the proposals, say they would balance power among the branches of government.

Voters approved a charter amendment to eliminate term limits for the mayor in 2012, and there are no term limits for clerk of courts or municipal court judge – though the latter falls under the state law that doesn’t permit people 70 years of age or older to run for a judgeship.

“I don’t believe we should have term limits on city council and council president and not have them on others,” said Councilwoman Anita Davis, D-6th. “Ultimately, [residents] have the right to vote and decide.”

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