Voters in Summit, Cuyahoga Face Questions on County Charters

Nov 1, 2019

In addition to a host of local races, tax levies and ballot questions in this year's election, voters in two counties in Northeast Ohio will be asked to make changes in how county government operates. 

Summit and Cuyahoga Counties are the only two counties in Ohio to have a charter form of government. In order to make changes in their organization, voters must approve the changes.

A decision for voters in Cuyahoga
In Cuyahoga County, Issue 6 deals with whether or not to amend the county’s charter to require any person appointed Sheriff to be confirmed by county council. Steve Brooks is the Associate Director at the Bliss Institute of Applied Politics at the University of Akron. He said the amendment is a direct result of the problems in the county jail.

“The legislative side I think is really saying ‘well we want to play a role in appointing that person.’  And it comes directly from the problems that the county has been having with its jail and therefore its sheriff.”

Eight people died in the Cuyahoga County Jail in 2018, with another death earlier this year­-- sparking national attention and pressure on the county to take action.

Cuyahoga County charter amendment:

  • Issue 6  Shall the Charter of the County of Cuyahoga be amended to repeal Section 5.08 which provides for the appointment of the Sheriff by the County Executive; and to enact new Article XVI to provide for the appointment of the Sheriff by the County Executive and subject to confirmation by Council, and to establish the powers, duties, qualifications, required certification, term, and removal process including the requirement of at least eight (8) affirmative votes on Council for the Sheriff’s removal?

Bookkeeping amendments in Summit
In Summit County, there are amendments which aim to remedy organizational issues in county government and outline what powers the county council has over its self.

Brooks said Issues 15, 16 and 17 do not call for drastic changes.

“The three amendments that we have are all just very, I would call, housekeeping. These are really supported by everybody because they really are nothing more than making county government more efficient.”

Summit County proposed charter amendments:

  • Issue 15:  Shall the Charter of the County of Summit be amended to place the Department of Human Resources under the direction of the County Executive and create the position of Equal Employment Opportunity Administrator under the direction of the Human Resource Commission?
  • Issue 16:  Shall the Charter of the County of Summit be amended to allow County Council to set its own rules, including its order of business and the identity, term and procedure for electing its officers?
  • Issue 17:  Shall the Charter of the County of Summit be amended to provide for a uniform process for filling vacancies in County elected offices, other than the Court of Common Pleas, both before and after 120 days before a general election?