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New Petition To Change Columbus City Council Representation

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Advocates from the group Represent Ohio have submitted a thirty-eight thousand signature petition to City Hall. They're asking that Columbus adopt a ward-style representation system.

Advocates have submitted a thirty-eight thousand signature petition to City Hall, asking that Columbus adopt a ward-style representation. That would increase city council seats to a total of 13. Ten of those seats would represent a specific district or ward. 

Columbus currently operates with an at-large representation system. There are seven city council members who are elected by all city residents and represent the city as a whole. Whitney Smith is the Co-chair of Represent Columbus, the group behind the petition. Smith says a city the size of Columbus could benefit from a district-style system; council members would be elected by residents of a particular district and charged with representing that district at city council. 

"The way that we see this, and the way that the 38,000 people in Columbus that signed this petition see it, is that we really need to give these people a voice, a real voice, and real representation at city council,” said Smith.

Franklin County Clerk of Courts and former city council member Maryellen O'Shaughnessy is an opponent to the petition. O'Shaughnessy argues that the current system has been successful. 

“It has helped to unify the city, other cities with ward configurations find themselves balkanized,” said O'Shaughnessy. 

If the petition signatures are verified by the Board of Elections the issue could make it to a special ballot in August, of the larger ballot in November.