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Don’t pass up opportunity to debate charter

For decades now, Warren residents have been hearing discussions about the possibility of allowing their city to be governed not according to Ohio statute, but by locally established rules known as a charter.

Tribune Chronicle archives show most recent debates about the issue occurred in 2014, 2010 and 2003. And many more preceded those discussions.

Each time, these talks were allowed to fall flat.

Now, the topic is being broached once again, this time by Councilman Ken MacPherson, D-5th Ward.

Angry and dissatisfied with answers he is receiving from some city leaders, MacPherson is questioning whether city leadership is doing a good job at placing the most-qualified people in positions to provide the best services and make needed recommendations to spend city funds efficiently. On March 13, MacPherson asked the city’s law department to place legislation on council’s agenda to change Warren from a statutory form of government to a charter form.

Certainly, a charter form of government would bring new options for a Warren that could fit its needs and demographics.

In its current form of government, Warren now must follow the Ohio Revised Code established in 1912 for most of its governing rules. That includes things as basic as the size of council, the role of the mayor, terms in office and even qualifications of elected and appointed department heads.

Of course we know charters are not perfect. But the beauty is that the charter can be drafted and approved with opportunities for review and revision from time to time.

The fact is, this could be the only time any Warren resident could have the ability to restructure local government. They could determine what it looks like, how top heavy it is, how job qualified candidates are, and so much more. The sky is the limit, really.

Previously, our newspaper has used this space to support the idea of a charter form of government, and we would welcome the opportunity to once again consider such an endorsement.

The idea should be considered seriously. It should be openly debated, not only by elected city officials, but also by community leaders and residents who call this city home. They should invite lively discussion on the idea that could bring new ideas and move the city forward. And as it unfolds, constituents should be well-informed of the pros and cons.

And then it should go to a vote.

We see no reason not to consider new methods of governing and growing Warren that could be a better fit than the cookie-cutter laws dictating how city government’s like Warren should operate — laws that have remained on the books in Ohio for more than 100 years.

We support discussion of a possible Warren charter, and we encourage it to move forward.

editorial@tribtoday.com

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