HISTORY
OF THE
CHARTER COMMITTEE

The Charter Committee of Greater Cincinnati was founded in 1924 to establish a unique local political party. At that time, Cincinnati was infamous for being the most corruptly governed major city in the United States under the infamous Boss Cox machine.

Under the leadership of Murray Seasongood, the Charter Committee proposed the country's first  Council-Manager form of local government. The new charter replaced political patronage with civil service, implemented proportional representation, and established several separate Boards and Commissions, such as the Health Department, Parks, Historic Preservation and others. The first charter election resulted in six of nine council members from the Charter Party. Murray Seasongood was selected Mayor.

The Charter Committee has continued to be an active and important presence in Cincinnati for many decades. Charterites who have served as Mayor include: Dot Dolbey, Cincinnati's first woman mayor, Theodore Berry, Bobbie Sterne and Tom Brush. Other Charter council members include Arn Bortz, Marian Spencer, Jim Tarbell, Reggie Williams, Roxanne Qualls Christopher Smitherman, Kevin Flynn and Yvette Simpson.

In 1999, voters amended the Charter, Cincinnati's constitution, to strengthen the Mayor's position. The Mayor became separately elected and was given the right to control Council's agenda, appoint members to Boards and Commissions, control committee agendas, initiate the hiring and firing of the City Manager, and veto  Council votes. In 2013 the Charter was again amended to give the Mayor and Council four year terms. This amendment was rescinded in 2019 to return to two-year terms for Council members. The 2021 election will elect a Mayor for a four year term and all Council members for two year terms.​

THE CHARTER REVIEW 

TASK FORCE

The Charter Review Task Force (CRTF) was created by a unanimous vote of Cincinnati City Council on December 13, 2013, introduced by Charter Councilmember Kevin Flynn.

The CRTF's purpose was to oversee a complete and holistic review of Cincinnati’s Charter to facilitate an open, extensive, community discussion about how city government should function and the ways in which it should be accountable to the citizens. The Task Force membership included elected and non-elected city officials, Republican, Democrat and Charter party leaders, community council and corporate representatives,and concerned citizens.
Their final report includes proposed Charter changes in three categories: 

  • Correcting unintended consequences of the 1999 charter amendments that Implemented the “stronger mayor” form of government

  • Modifications to the current “stronger mayor” form of government to correct a perceived flaw in the present system.

  • Legal compliance changes to correct internal inconsistencies in the charter or to bring the charter into compliance with Ohio state requirements.

The 2021 Charter platform includes the Task Force recommendations that have not previously been brought to City Council for a vote.