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Published: Tuesday, 7/13/2010

Lucas County Commission president tables his proposal for county reform

BLADE STAFF
Pete Gerken Pete Gerken
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Pete Gerken, president of the Lucas County Commission, tabled his proposal for putting a charter commission on the Nov. 2 ballot Tuesday, ending one of the three competing plans for overhauling county government.

Mr. Gerken said he asked to table the proposal, effectively killing it, because it appears few Lucas County residents are likely to run for the 15 positions on the commission. Candidates for the commission would have to collect more than 1,400 signatures.

And he said he supports an alternative plan under which members of the now-defunct Corporation for Effective Government would study county government and come up with proposals for efficiencies or for a charter ballot issue next year.

The tabling was approved 2-1 with Commissioner Tina Skeldon Wozniak casting the second yes vote.

Ms. Wozniak is championing her own plan to draft a charter proposal that would go on the ballot in 2011. So far no details have emerged about how the charter would be fashioned, or how it would work.

Commissioner Ben Konop has opposed the Gerken plan and said he voted against tabling because he wanted to vote the measure down permanently. He called the Gerken plan “a distraction,” designed to undermine support of his own plan, which was to put a proposed county charter on the Nov. 2 ballot.

Mr. Konop campaigned for a charter reform plan that would have scrapped the present system of county commissioners and row officers in favor of a county executive-county council charter.

But he said he did not have the financial resources to collect the more than 14,000 signatures necessary to get his proposal on the Nov. 2 ballot.

All three commissioners are Democrats.

Jon Stainbrook, the chairman of the Lucas County Republican Party, is now trying to collect signatures for virtually the same plan backed by Mr. Konop — both modeled on a recently adopted charter in Cuyahoga County.

He said he supports the proposed county executive-county council charter because he believes it's more efficient and improves the chances of Republicans being elected to county office.



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