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Vote next Tuesday to decide fate of City Hall

The vote to change Columbus City Council from At-Large to a ward-based system is coming next week. (WSYX/WTTE)

Represent Columbus and One Columbus, the groups campaigning for and against Issue 1, are in the final days of campaigning ahead of Tuesday’s special election.

The vote may change how city council is formed.

Represent Columbus, the group campaigning in favor of a neighborhood district system, collected 39,000 signatures to put Issue 1 on the ballot. Their system would have the city split into 10 districts, each voting for one city council member. They would also have three at-large seats voted on by the entire city. The number of council members would increase based on population size.

Currently, Columbus City Council is made up of seven at-large members, all Democrats, who are elected by the entire city.

While Represent Columbus does not have a map with their proposal, they want to ensure the public has a say in how the districts are drawn.

“We have done as much as we possibly can to remove politicians from the process,” said Whitney Smith, co-chair of Represent Columbus. “While you can never make it 100 percent perfect, it's a lot better than the guys at City Hall writing the map."

But the lack of a map concerns those with One Columbus, the group urging a no vote on Issue 1. Bryan Clark, campaign manager of One Columbus, believes it presents too many unknowns.

“Issue 1 is a giant question mark in the middle of our city's constitution,” Clark said. “There's so many unanswered questions. There's so many things it puts at risk and really it's just the wrong plan for Columbus. We know that wards are not a solution for all the problems that Issue 1 is throwing out there."

Jonathan Beard, co-chair of Represent Columbus, believes any problems with Issue 1 can be solved with more realistic representation in city council.

“There's room enough in Columbus for multiple people, multiple parties to sit around the table,” Beard said. “We're all Columbusites. That's what we want to do. We can work together and make things happen.”

The Issue 1 special election takes place next Tuesday, August 2. Early voting is already happening at the Franklin County Board of Elections.

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