GREEN: Voters said "no" in a big way Tuesday to racinos and all other gambling in the city except non-profit fundraising.
The issue was one of seven proposed charter amendments placed on the ballot by City Council after all but the gambling proposal were recommended by the city's Charter Review Commission.
The issue was added to the ballot after a citizen petition garnered enough voter signatures.
Green resident Des Wertheimer, who with attorney David Mucklow led the drive to ban gambling except for non-profit groups, said Wednesday, "We were very happy that it passed. Our goal from the beginning was to give the residents a say, and they spoke at the ballot box: 'We don't want it.'"
Mucklow said the ban would take effect Nov. 27 when the Summit County Elections Board is to certify the Tuesday election results.
The gambling ban received 58 percent of the votes, winning by 2,218, according to unofficial Summit results.
Besides the gambling issue, voters also rejected a proposed third successive four-year term for mayor if an incumbent chose to seek the seat, but they said, "yes" to the other five issues. Current term limits now allow a mayor only two successive for-year terms, the same as for council members.
Susan Allen, chairwoman of the Charter Review Commission, said Wednesday that the commission's proposals were always based around what the members thought the residents might consider changing.
"We felt it most appropriate to place the issue [of three successive terms for mayor] before the citizens to see if they were interested in changing," she said.
"I think we felt fairly confident that the others would be approved," Allen added, primarily because of the community input concerning those issues.
Council President Joel Reed commented, "I was not surprised at all by the outcome [on all seven issues], and I'm pleased with the results all the way down the line."
Commission member Ted Mallo said, "I was pleased that five [of the six amendments we recommended] were approved by the voters," adding one might be subject to recount. "The fact that five of the six were approved by the voters speaks well for the process of the charter review."
Mayor Dick Norton, now serving the first year of a second four-year term, was out of the office Wednesday afternoon and unavailable for comment.
In his stead, Valerie Wolford, the mayor's communications coordinator, said it was "not a big surprise how issues 12 and 18 [the added term and gambling, respectively] ended up.
Issue 12 was debated by the commission right up to the last meeting. Some were for extending term limits for the mayor and some were not."
As for the gambling issue, Wolford said, "It was an issue brought forth by petition. There were people opposed to ever having a racino in our community, and they spoke out at the polls on Tuesday."
Of the seven amendment issues, the only one with a narrow margin of victory, 48 votes, was Issue 15, which provides the Civil Service Commission with flexibility concerning rules and regulations and other policies and procedures so long as they are first reviewed and approved by council.
Besides the mayor and racino issues, those approved by large margins were:
- Issue 13, requiring the mayor to devote his entire time and effort during regular business hours and all other times as necessary to properly conduct city business.
- Issue 14, giving council the power to fill any vacancy on council not less than 30 days or more than 45 days after the vacancy occurs.
- Issue 16, allowing up to 15 percent of the 7 percent of income tax revenue available to the Parks and Recreation Division to be used for special events and programming.
- Issue 17, allowing council to correct typos in the charter, remove inconsistent language and correct language that violates Ohio law to ensure that the charter complies with Ohio law.