On April 27, 2020, council and myself will be reviewing two proposals that would focus on changing the way voting is done in the City of Barberton. The two proposals are focusing on the primary elections and are competing proposals. If council passes the Charter Amendment proposals, they will be placed on the November ballot for the Barberton voters decide. Council will vote to allow the citizens of Barberton to decide the faith of the primaries.

As mentioned above, there are two proposals.

  1. Eliminating the Primary and moving all voting to the General
  2. Moving the Primary to May so that it aligns with other municipalities that still have a primary.

Both proposals were presented by Councilman Heitic. He explained on social media his reasons why he presented two competing proposals for changes to the primaries.

Barberton is the only city/township currently in Summit County with a September primary, which we must pay 100% of the cost instead of sharing cost with other communities. September of 2019 cost the city $64,799.30 to hold. (16% of eligible voters turned out for this).

-Elimination. All candidates would be on the November general without party labels.

-Move to May. This retains a primary, and party labels.

If both are passed by the council, the competing amendments will appear this November. Whichever would receive the most “Yes” votes would win.

If both are voted down, we would retain the September primary. This in turn between 2019, 2021, and 2023 combined at the rate now charged would cost the city just shy of $195,000 over four years.

You would still have a vote in any scenario. The choices are the current partisan system in May like the rest of the county, state, and federal elections are held, no partisanship and every candidate will be on the November General election, or by voting down both stay as is.

Voting is sacred to me, that’s why I requested both. This way people decide how they want it with every option on the table.

City of Barberton Councilman Heitic

Councilman Heitic also provided a bit of history behind the primaries here in the City of Barberton and explained that in most election years, the general election had NO competitors for positions.

including 1999, there have been 58 seats elected between council, president, and mayor. Of those, in 24 a primary was required and of those only 8 went on to have a challenger in November. The other 16 instances a person would have to pull that party’s ballot (even if belonging to the opposing party) in September in order to vote for their representation. Out of 58 seats, 50 of them could very well have just been in the general election for every voter to decide.

City of Barberton Councilman Heitic

The response above makes the case to remove the primaries all together. Even when there were multiple candidates, the need for a primary was mostly null since the City of Barberton only had one party in the elections.

My Take

Let the people decide, not council, not a committee, not a commission, but the PEOPLE!

The last mayoral election in 2019 made it clear that our system was falling short for the Citizens of Barberton. The Mayoral race was decided in the primary since there was no competitors to challenge the victor of the primary. Many residents reached out confused and angry that they could not vote for others and vote for our Mayor at the same time.

A primary is an election for each party and decides who is going to the general election in November. The way the system played out stripped the ability of some residents to vote for mayor, including myself. Since I ran as a republican, I was not able to vote for whom I thought was the best choice because I would be disqualified as a candidate to the party system.

It is clear, we need to do something. I have heard many that are apposed and many that are for removing the primary. I have heard from even more people that just don’t understand the complicated system we use. There is Pros and Cons to removing the primary and I would be happy to explain them. The biggest con of removing the primary is that the system could be flooded with candidates to dilute a competitors chance of winning. In my opinion, the pros out way the cons but with both these proposals, it will be up to the voter to decide.

Common Questions I’m Seeing

Does any of these remove or restrict my right to vote in any way?
Absolutely not! Removing the primary will simply move all voting to November during a General election.

Don’t we need to whittle down the candidates using the primary?
If we have a large candidate pool, it can help. Removing the primary will make all candidates go to the general election and the winner will take all.

Do these proposals remove party labels from the ballot?
Yes/No. The proposal to remove the primary will remove party labels and allow voters to focus on the best candidate and their platform. Moving the primary to may will no remove party designation.

You can view the proposals as written below.

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