ENVISIONING THE FUTURE
A County Charter: Working with County Commissioners
PCRG was formed to secure Community Rights and the Rights of Nature within Portage County. At this point, the current charter created in 2018 would have to be revised. Any revised charter petition would require beginning all over collecting signatures. Given the challenges of COVID19, either completing collecting the over 6,000 signatures required for a state-wide citizen initiate charter, let alone, beginning with a brand new revised charter is not practical.
An alternative method of transforming Portage's current state as a statutory county into a chartered county is through the County Commissioners. Portage County has been fortunate in having County Commissioners open to listening to public concerns about health and safety issues. When grassroots groups (like PCRG) shared information about the radioactivity and toxic contaminants in gas and oil waste, and Portage's many waste injection wells, as well as "fracking" industrialization of farm lands, they expressed concerned and lamented their lack of power. They have been willing to write letters expressing concern to the State Legislature.
If we want local control and a local democratic republic, in which rural and urban citizens have equal rights of citizen initiative and referendum and recall, we need a county charter that gives more authority to our county government. The Ohio Revised Code (ORC 302.03) provides that the County Commissioners Board can put a county charter on the ballot by a 2/3 vote or upon petition of 3% of the voters in the last governor's election. In other words, with the network of supporters we've built over the past five years, a more attainable target.
We could leverage the thousands of signatures we've gathered over the last five years to gather a large contingent of supporters to approach the Commissioners with a proposal to set up a Charter Committee to write a charter, securing our basic rights and the rights of nature. We could hold virtual meetings to educate people about the need to protect our community.
If you'd like to join our core group to strategize about this vision for the future, contact us below. As you decide whom to vote for, ask every candidate if s/he supports local government control and a county charter. Also, ask if they support the Rights of Nature.