COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – Voters on Tuesday rejected Issue 7, a ballot measure that would have put nearly 10% of Columbus’ annual budget toward vague clean energy initiatives, resoundingly voting it down by a more than 6-to-1 margin.
The proposed ordinance failed with just 13.19% of the vote as 86.81% of Columbus voters chose to say no, according to unofficial results just before 11 p.m. Tuesday from the Franklin County Board of Elections.
The only measure on capital city ballots this November, Issue 7 would have set aside $87 million of the city’s general fund to “promote and fund” programs for “clean energy education and training,” “energy conservation and energy efficiency initiatives” and others.
But despite paragraphs of progressive language, leaders of Ohio’s increasingly green-minded capital city pushed back at the ill-defined ballot item. Mayor Andrew Ginther in a TV commercial called Issue 7 “one of the biggest scams in the city’s history,” because it would have set up four funds but given the city no control over the money.
Columbus voters chose to defeat the measure 83,005 votes to 12,608, per unofficial results.
The people behind ProEnergy Ohio, which led the effort to get Issue 7 on the ballot, were largely silent in the runup to Tuesday’s election. Last week, NBC4 tried to track down the measure’s six petitioners, but their listed addresses led reporter Jamie Ostroff to a sold home and a row of bushes, for example.
“Most people that have policy initiatives, they want to see worked on in the city generally engage with city council, generally engage with the mayor’s office, generally engage with people that want to see the city do better in a lot of these areas and really make our city better for everyone,” Columbus Councilman Rob Dorans told NBC4 last week. “These folks have not done that whatsoever.”
Petitioner Udell Hollins and attorney Connie Gadell-Newton were unable to give specific answers to The Spectrum’s Colleen Marshall as to where the money would go, who would administer it and how they came up with the $87 million price tag.
Although it failed Tuesday, Issue 7’s promoters have already begun the process of trying to get it on the ballot in a future election, next time asking for $107 million in city funds.