October 29th, 2009 By | News | Posted In: 2009 Election, City Council

Candidates On: Changing Council Elections

CityBeat recently asked the non-incumbent candidates for Cincinnati City Council whether the charter should be amended to change the way future councils are elected.

The question posed was, “What are your thoughts on suggestions to either expand council terms to four years, or to elect council members by districts rather than at-large?”

Tony Fischer (Democrat): “I believe district elections make the most sense, particularly if the districts corresponded to areas people were familiar with, such as their neighborhoods. Having more council members being paid less and elected by district strikes me as being a more representative system than what is currently in place.”

Nicholas Hollan (Democrat): “I am supportive of expanding council terms to four years so that members have the opportunity to move an agenda forward. As we have seen this year, council consists of one year of work and then one year of politicking with issues in order to garner votes. An expanded term provides the opportunity for a continued focus on city business.”

Amy Murray (Republican): “I would support any move that would yield better government. Yes, a four-year council term would put more focus on running the city and less on getting re-elected. Some combination of ‘at-large’ and district representation may provide us with better communication and responsiveness between council and the neighborhoods. However, I would need to see the specific proposal.”

Laure Quinlivan (Democrat): “As someone new to politics, I am amazed and horrified by the time and effort required to run for office. Anything we can do to lengthen the term will help our elected officials have time to concentrate on actual work instead of plan their re-elections. I definitely support four-year terms for council members instead of the current two-year terms, where people are basically in constant campaign mode.

“I think electing council member by districts makes sense. You’d think citizens would prefer to have a certain council person to call when they have an issue instead of not knowing which of the nine council members might actually give them the time of day when they have a problem. However, voters defeated representation by district the last time it was on the ballot.”

LaMarque Ward (Independent): “I think it could be a great option. I know for me running as an independent candidate, it would make it easier for guys like me to get elected. I also believe we would get more done for the community we serve.”

Bernadette Watson (Democrat): “Four-year terms would be more beneficial to our city and give council a time to not always appear to be in a campaign situation. It is important for some new council members to learn the process of being in office. At the end of your first year, it is time to begin thinking of running again. My campaign says I am ‘shovel ready’ and ready to go to work on the first day because of my experience, but others have not had that opportunity.

“I was a part of the Electoral Reform Committee put in place by former Mayor Charlie Luken. I believe running at-large is not the best way for our government body to be elected. There was a plan presented to council and in my opinion should be re-visited.”

George Zamary (Republican): “I would be willing to discuss the pro’s and con’s of each. I believe a district process would allow the opportunity for non-incumbents to more competitive in the election.”

10.30.2009 at 01:22 Reply
Electing Council by districts might sound like a good deal for constituents, but it would also be the best way for those with the big money to solidify their control over who gets elected. Can you realistically imagine an independent neighborhood activist who isn't blessed by the political establishment running a strong campaign without an extremely well-financed opponent? Campaigning might be easier, but without a golden ticket, winning would be that much harder. I look forward to being proven wrong about this. If the new Council really, truly cares about being more accessible to citizens, they can divide primary responsibility for certain areas of the city among themselves after the election, so everyone will know who to call for neighborhood-specific issues. Also, don't count out Proportional Representation as an alternative election method.


10.31.2009 at 08:05 Reply
Quinlivan says district elections were defeated the last time it was on the ballot. It would be nice if the investigative reporter let us know when that was. I know Council discussed it in 2003, but I can't find any reference to it being on the ballot in recent history.


11.17.2009 at 12:17 Reply
I am surprised to hear so many that think that there is merit in district elections. I guess it take time for people to come to their senses. It is imperative that Cincinnati go to districts to give the people more confidence in their government and that they can actually have a significant voice . Forget the PR and the combination of district and at-large. It has to be clean and simple or it won't work. Dieter Schmied