Crowd of people in downtown Columbus for Issue One

As we go to press, the devastating numbers are coming in from the special election polls. It appears Issue One has failed.

At the crux of the anti-Issue One campaign was the Big Lie that the idea of a city with representative districts came from "The party of Trump" who were supposedly "associated with the Koch Brothers." Ironically, many voters were worried about an increased cost of $20 million to the city budget, which was part of the anti-Issue One campaign's false advertising. In reality, the movement for more representation was created after the all-Democratic Columbus City Council gave away a quarter of a billion dollars to Nationwide Insurance and four of the richest families to bail them out for a bad investment in the Columbus Blue Jackets hockey team.

Frederick Douglass famously said, “Without struggle, there can be no progress.” Jonathan Beard of Represent Columbus, the organization that initiated Issue One, stated, "We are disappointed to have lost this election to democratize our government, but we are convinced that it was an important step on the road to reforming our government. We believe the very fact that citizens organized and worked on a plan for improvement has changed the city for the better. On the very first day of early voting, the Mayor and council announced a plan for a commission to consider changes to the city council after years of claiming everything was alright and nothing needs to be examined."

"Ultimately, we were defeated by a million dollar advertising blitz of lies and deception. We were defeated by the monolith of big business and big government that we had hoped to modify to the benefit of the people," said Beard.

This debate has raised awareness about the issue that the city government needs to change to better represent all the people of Columbus. Even the opposition has dropped its claim that Columbus’s seven member all at-large council does not need to be rethought. While they opposed and defeated Issue One, the bias against change has been broken and Represent Columbus looks forward to steps toward reform initiated from within.

The citizens lost the election on Issue One, but the issues remain: Represent Columbus plans to continue the effort to transform government so it is never too big for the people. They further call for Mayor Andrew Ginther and Councilman Shannon Hardin to install the pledged Council Charter Review Committee, to consider the form of government: 1) changing from the seven member all at-large Council to a form that better represents the large and diverse Columbus population, 2) campaign finance reform to include caps on contributions and restrictions on campaign contributions by entities doing business with the city, 3) a change to the council appointment process, 4) a re-visiting of the obvious conflict of interest created by Issue 7 in 2014 and evidenced in Issue 1 that allows the council to write ballot language for citizen initiatives, and 5) a completion of the ethics reforms considered earlier this year.