Mayor Jackson, Cleveland City Council members urge voters not to cut council in half

Mayor Jackson, Cleveland City Council members urge voters not to cut council in half

CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - Mayor Frank Jackson is warning Cleveland residents about a big upcoming vote.

He said it could affect citizens’ voice in local government.

The number of city council members could be cut in half depending on what voters decide.

Right now, there are 17 council members representing the people of Cleveland.

There could be nine if the thousands of people who signed a petition get their way.

Mayor Jackson and some city council members claim most of those people don’t even live in Cleveland.

In a video clip posted to the city of Cleveland’s website, Mayor Frank Jackson said, “I’m stating firmly that I am opposed to counsel reduction.”

Mayor Jackson kicks off below a series of videos in which he will talk about why reducing the size of Cleveland City...

Posted by City of Cleveland - City Hall on Thursday, January 23, 2020

He went on to say, “This is an attempt to consolidate power into the hands of a few people.”

In November 2019, 19 News spoke with Bill Ritter and John Kandah as they collected far more than the 6,200 signatures needed to put the issue on the ballot in March for voters to decide. Both are former council candidates and part of a group called “Cleveland First.”

Tony George, a local business owner, is also part of the group.

In November 2018, he told 19 News, “With less council members, you’ll see new faces. We also need fresh blood."

Councilman Mike Polensek said the timing couldn’t be worse.

In 2020 and census results could change everything.

“If this should pass on St. Patrick’s Day, we have to go to nine wards, draw nine wards by June and then after the census results come in at the end of this year we have to do it again. So, you could in theory be in two separate wards in less than a year. Does that make sense? Makes no sense to me,” said Polensek.

Voters will also have to give a thumbs up or down to a proposal to reduce the pay of council members.

Council currently makes $80,000 a year. The people who want to change things said other cities similar in size are making much less and are operating with no more than seven council members.

If this happens here, Polensek says, “What you’re going to see is really a bunch of part-time counselor people which is unfortunate. It’s not going to serve our citizens well.”

Polensek is hoping luck of the Irish will encourage people to keep things as they are when they vote on March 17, St. Patrick’s Day.

Copyright 2020 WOIO. All rights reserved.