Every Ohioan retains an unalienable right to participate in community local self-government in the place where they live. But every citizen of Ohio is denied the full enjoyment of that right, and many are denied it completely.
Citizens living in home rule cities enjoy a modicum of local self-governing rights that include initiative, referendum, and recall as well as the ability to amend their local government charters and the right to enact local laws through their elected community representatives. Citizens in statutory cities, villages and townships can beg their local officials to make law on their behalf. But too often these local representatives act as mere administrators of State law in our communities. That is when the initiative process becomes a valuable tool. And yet, even then, County and State functionaries often try to stop the people from voting on citizen initiated legislation.
Residents of unincorporated townships have it even worse. They are denied all forms of local self-government. The fact is people in cities, villages and townships are afforded unequal protection of the law regarding the right to community local self-government.
In an effort to guarantee the right to local self governance to protect all residents in a county, no matter the municipal structure of their community, county residents are working on proposing the first ever county charters by initiative in the state. Through these grassroots efforts of these first county charters with bill of rights protections, the hope is that many more Ohio counties will follow.
As we are expanding this rights-based organizing in more municipalities and counties in Ohio, we are also laying the groundwork to drive Community Rights into our state governing structures to secure our inalienable, immutable Community Rights at the state level.