Charter Committee delays endorsement vote for Cincinnati City Council

Some board members caught off-guard by choices

CINCINNATI - Cincinnati’s unofficial third political party was set to cross-endorse three candidates in the City Council race, but the vote was delayed at the request of some members, including two incumbent politicians.

The Charter Committee was to vote July 24 on endorsing Democrats Greg Landsman and David Mann, along with Republican Amy Murray.

Although the Charter’s nominating committee recommended the trio for approval, some on its governing board asked to postpone the vote pending more review.

Among those whose concerns helped spark the delay were Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls and Councilwoman Yvette Simpson.

Qualls and Simpson are not on Charter’s governing board, but are Democrats who were cross-endorsed by Charter in 2011.

Simpson is again cross-endorsed this year, but Qualls is running only as a Democrat in the mayoral race.

The vote is now scheduled for Aug. 7.

Michael Goldman, Charter’s executive committee chairman, wouldn’t elaborate on the delayed vote.

“The Charter Committee board has a long-standing policy that current or ongoing business before it is confidential and not to be discussed outside the boardroom,” Goldman said.

A few board members were willing to discuss the situation, as long as their names weren’t used.

Some board members last week wanted more time to ponder the nominating committee’s criteria for recommending endorsements, the sources said.

But some in attendance also said Qualls and Simpson weren’t comfortable with Charter endorsing Murray, a Republican.

Further, Qualls and Simpson had concerns about Landsman and Mann, who oppose a controversial parking lease narrowly approved by City Council that Qualls and Simpson strongly support.

Part of the problem, Qualls said, is the slate came as a surprise to many people. Board members who weren’t on the nominating committee had not been provided an agenda ahead of time.

“Several Charter board members had already raised questions about the purpose of the meeting and the process used by the nominating committee to arrive at its recommendations, prior to me raising issues with the process used by the committee,” Qualls said.

Simpson echoed Qualls’ remarks that their involvement in the delay was minimal.

“The board itself had issue with the lack of information provided by the committee supporting their decision,” Simpson said. “That prompted the extension of time to consider the candidates.

“Roxanne and I also wanted clarity on the process, and since we would not be voting or present at the meeting where the vote would occur, the committee met with us separately to explain their thought process,” Simpson added.

Charter previously voted in April to endorse Simpson in this year's City Council elections, along with Kevin Flynn and Vanessa White.

Although not technically a political party, Charter has a long, storied history of fielding City Council candidates. The group's endorsement typically conveys a commitment to the civic good and placing the public interest above political considerations.

Some of its most well-known politicians have included Marian Spencer, Bobbie Sterne, Jim Tarbell, Arn Bortz and Reggie Williams.

Charter describes itself as “the good government people.”

“The Charter Committee believes that Cincinnati's government should be free of partisan politics, and should be led by individuals committed to the city, not the fortunes of their party or their budding political careers,” Charter’s website states.

Some board members, however, believe Charter has strayed from that purpose in recent years. They cite Charter-endorsed politicians who haven’t promoted transparency at City Hall.

Formed in 1924, the Charter Committee helped end the corrupt political machine operated by “Boss” George Cox, a Republican who dominated City Hall and local politics, arranging tasks like fixing tax rates for friends and contributors.

Charter successfully pushed to create the city manager form of government, which was designed to de-politicize the daily administrative tasks of municipal government.


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