MOUNT VERNON — Employee and Community Relations Chair John Francis sees Wednesday’s committee meeting as a chance for the public and council members to get answers to whatever questions they may have about preparing and possibly adopting a home rule charter for the city.
“I see this as an open forum, question-and-answer session, and it is vital that the public show up,” Francis said.
He said he has tried to remain strictly neutral in preparing this meeting and he has invited attorney Jonathan Downs of Newark, a leading expert on municipal law and charters, and County Prosecutor Chip McConville to attend the meeting. There will also be other panelists, as other council members have suggested people to attend. Francis said he expects to have the list of panelists finalized by Monday.
Mayor Richard Mavis has been working to fill out the panel and Friday said that he has confirmations from Worthington City Manager Matt Greeson and Assistant City Manager Robin Stewart; as well as Tom Carroll, village manager of Silverton. There may also be a couple more.
Councilman Matt Starr said he has received confirmation from Bruce Ennen, who works for Licking County Regional Planning. He served on the Newark Charter Commission in 1996 and has served on a couple of the review commissions since that time.
He compared the upcoming session to the meeting held last year when the idea of setting up a charter commission was first aired by council member Sam Barone and others. That panel consisted of Downs and of representatives of other cities which have gone through a charter adoption process or have amended their charters to change their government structure.
That flexibility is often touted as one of the advantages charter governments have over government under the structure set out under the Ohio Revised Code.
Francis said the key question he has is the same one he asked at a recent City Council meeting is “What do we need a charter for?”
The meeting will take place Wednesday, from 6-8 p.m., in Council Chambers at City Hall.