Monday, September 23, 2019 Medina 78°
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Elections

Courthouse initiative advances; LGBTQ referendum confirmed off ballot

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MEDINA — Following the rules regarding a 10-day public inspection period will mean one petition is a step closer to being on the Nov. 5 ballot rather than two.

A Medina County Board of Election official confirmed Monday that efforts to get a referendum on the Nov. 5 ballot related to LGBTQ protections legislation will not be successful.

However, the work to get an initiative on the same ballot related to the Medina County courthouse project could find more success after supporters appeared to meet the required deadlines for the general election.

The initiative petition on the courthouse was filed in Medina Finance Director Keith Dirham’s office at 4:50 p.m. Friday, July 26. A 10-day public inspection period ended at 4:50 p.m. Monday.

Since the board of elections closes at 4:30, Dirham said he plans to transmit the initiative petitions today.

The initiative petition had 1,017 signatures.

The signatures must be verified before the initiative is approved to appear on the ballot.

If the ballot initiative is successful, voters in the city of Medina will have a voice prior to expenditure of any additional city funds on the proposed joint courthouse.

Dirham said he was instructed by the city’s legal counsel that initiative and referendum petitions must be held in his office for 10 days for public inspection prior to transmitting the petitions to the elections board. It’s the reason why he can’t advance petitions related to LGBTQ protections legislations to the board of elections sooner.

The Ohio Christian Alliance said it amassed 1,173 signatures in an effort to put the referendum on the ballot.

The petitions were filed in Medina Finance Director Keith Dirham’s office at 4:50 p.m. Wednesday, July 31.

The 10-day period ends at 4:50 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 10.

The board of elections is closed on the weekends. Dirham said he will transmit the referendum petitions to the board on Monday, Aug. 12 — past the 4 p.m. Aug. 7 deadline to place issues on the ballot.

Medina County Board of Elections Director Carol Lawler said Dirham must hold the petitions for 10 days because of Ohio Revised Code.

“The pubic has 10 days available to look at it,” she said. “There is no exception for holding it for 10 days.”

Chris Long, president of the Akron-based group, said 983 signatures were needed for the referendum — 10 percent of the total voters in the 16 precincts in the city. He said the signatures were collected in 14 days by a team of 50 volunteers.

The amount is the same needed for the initiative petition on the Medina County courthouse project, which seems to have successfully met the deadlines in place for the general election.

Had the LGBTQ petition been successful, it would have forced a citywide vote on the recently passed ordinance that offers LGBTQ protections in the city, the newly enacted ordinance 112-19. Medina City Council passed the ordinance on July 8.

The Christian Alliance said it believes 112-9 was passed without an adequate opportunity for public comment.

It said the language prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity and expression is “ambiguous and ill-defined.”

This referendum would have allowed for the people of Medina to decide on the approval or rejection of the ordinance.

The earliest the referendum could be placed on the ballot is November 2020. It can’t be placed in the primary election in May.

Contact reporter Bob Finnan at (330) 721-4049 or rfinnan@medina-gazette.com.


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