MOUNT VERNON — The stage is set for an informative public forum Tuesday evening at 7 p.m. in City Council chambers, to explore the benefits of home rule charter government for the City of Mount Vernon.
Forum moderator Dani Robbins of The Ohio State University School of Public Affairs will initially guide a discussion among four panelists who possess a wealth of knowledge about the more flexible, charter form of government that has been adopted by 76 percent of Ohio municipalities. Local journalists will then join the conversation, posing questions contributed by audience members as well as their own. The entire forum is scheduled to conclude at 8:30 p.m.
Joining the moderator on the expert panel will be Worthington City Manager Matt Greeson, Marysville City Manager Terry Emery, Marysville City Councilwoman Tracy Richards, and veteran municipal law attorney Jonathan Downs. Together, these panelists offer a wealth of perspectives about the local government practices under a home rule charter, as opposed to Mount Vernon’s current one-size-fits-all statutory form of government. The Marysville participants offer the additional insights of a community that recently transitioned from a “strong mayor” form of government, such as Mount Vernon’s, to a “council-manger” format.
The journalist panel, which will collect submitted audience questions during a brief break, will consist of Samantha Scoles of the Mount Vernon News, Curtis Newland of BAS Broadcasting, and Marty Trese of KnoxPages.
In addition to exploring differences in local government under a home rule charter, as opposed to a statutory system, panelists are expected to discuss home rule opportunities for greater continuity of leadership, consolidation and streamlining of city offices, enhanced policy-making roles for elected city council members, and the ability for Mount Vernon voters to exempt themselves from costly mandates imposed upon statutory cities by the Ohio Revised Code. The panel will also be prepared to explain the process for placing a home rule charter issue before local voters.
Tuesday’s forum grew out of an informal charter discussion with City Manager Greeson last fall that included the local leadership of both political parties, elected and non-elected city officials, and a representative of the local media. From that meeting emerged a consensus to expand the conversation about the benefits of charter government to include the entire community.
Tuesday’s meeting is no doubt the first of several public discussions to determine if a home rule charter would be a good fit for Mount Vernon. The public is invited to participate in person, or to tune in to a live cablecast of the forum on Spectrum Cable. The forum may also be viewed live, or later as a recorded program, on the City Council website.