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Akron Voters Will Decide Charter Changes in November

akron's municipal building
Akron City Council
In November, Akron voters will choose a number of proposed charter changes, from the handling of police body-worn camera and dash cam footage to the city's hiring and bidding practices.

Akron voters are being asked to consider several proposed changes to the city’s charter in November.

Among the proposals Akron City Council approved Monday is a charter change that would require police to publicly release body cam footage and dash cam recordings of incidents in which deadly force is used,  as long as the release is allowable by state and federal law.

A Charter Review Commission recommended amending outdated language and adding new sections to Akron’s charter.

If voters say “yes” Nov. 3, Council will pass the legislation. The measure is expected to enable greater transparency and public accountability, according to Council President Margo Sommerville

“This is a great opportunity for all those young people and different people who came, who showed up at protests to go to the ballot box now,” she said. “You can decide ‘Hey, is it important that we have transparency in terms of body cam footage?’”

Voters will also decide whether the city can relax the competitive bidding in some cases to allow more contracts to be awarded to minority contractors. Officials say the sealed bidding process can be overwhelming for small businesses.

Additional Charter Proposals

Council also proposed charter changes that could alter the city's hiring practices and the way it promotes workers.

One proposal would base promotion on merit rather than on “preference points” awarded for living in the city limits or having served in the Armed Forces.

“You get a promotion because you earned it. You earned it based on merit, based on performance," Sommerville said. "So the city is really trying to move in that direction where we’re promoting individuals not just based on preference points, but also on merit and performance.”

Akron voters will also decide whether to increase the number of finalists competing for city jobs from three to 10. Casting a wider net for candidates competing for city positions would allow those who don't test well but could do the job well to be included, Sommerville said.

Jennifer Conn joined WKSU in February 2019 as Akron reporter.