FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE August 31, 2015
Tish O’Dell, Ohio Community Organizer
COLUMBUS, OH: Earlier this month, Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted declared that the citizens of Medina, Fulton, and Athens Counties may not vote on their own county charter initiatives, despite meeting requirements to place those initiatives on the November ballot.
Mr. Husted’s ruling has broad implications for the right of initiative in the state of Ohio. Residents intend to make clear to Mr. Husted that his decision to strip communities of their right to vote will not be accepted by the people. Residents from across the state will protest outside the Athletic Club this Wednesday, September 2. The Secretary of State is the keynote speaker at the Metropolitan Club Luncheon that day.
The protest will take place in front of the Athletic Club (136 E. Broad Street) beginning at 11:00 and will continue until the luncheon is over. The group will proceed to the Ohio Supreme Court to make clear to the justices that the people want their initiatives placed on the November ballot.
People in Ohio are realizing that our legal and governing structure does not represent their interests, but rather the moneyed interests of the oil and gas industry. Mr. Husted’s claims of “unfettered authority and being empowered by the Ohio Revised Code” cannot be allowed to stand, denying the people their constitutional right. According to Article 1, Section 2 of the Ohio Constitution, “All political power is inherent in the people. Government is instituted for their equal protection and benefit and they have the right to alter, reform or abolish the same whenever they may deem it necessary….”
Wednesday’s protest will inform not only Mr. Husted and the Supreme Court Justices of the peoples’ dissatisfaction with the decision, but will build awareness among Ohioans that decisions such as Mr. Husted’s are unjust and illegitimate, denying the peoples’ constitutional rights. Whether it is about fracking, workers’ rights or changing their local government structure, this decision, if allowed to stand, will be nothing less than chaining the people’s hands, disallowing any effort to make change unless the state deems it acceptable.
There was a time in our history when electeds such as Mr. Husted said women and African Americans were property with no rights to protect themselves, as well. It was not until people started directly challenging unjust laws and decisions – entering voting booths and sitting at segregated lunch counters illegally – that growing numbers of people understood the law was unjust and illegitimate, and created movements to change it.
The Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) drafted the county charters and is providing legal support, assisting these counties to secure community rights to local self-government through initiative and referendum, and to secure their rights to clean air and water by banning fracking infrastructure projects as a violation of those rights.
CELDF partners with the Ohio Community Rights Network (OHCRN), which is creating a network of communities across the state to drive community rights to the state level, and to fight efforts to quash the people’s democratic rights.
It is becoming increasingly clear that the people of Ohio need to alter their government not only at the local level, but the State level as well. Municipal, township, and county residents across the state are working with CELDF and OHCRN to draft and advance a state constitutional amendment that will secure and protect community rights to local self-government. OHCRN is establishing a network of communities working to advance, secure and protect the inalienable rights of all Ohioans to democratic, local self-governance, to sustainable food, energy and economic systems, and the rights of nature to exist and flourish throughout Ohio. For more information, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.