Cleveland Heights cares about democracy

August 31, 2013
Penny Allen

Cleveland Heights voters just showed they care deeply about democracy. And we hope they will have the opportunity to show it again in November.

More than 3,000 people in Cleveland Heights showed they cared by signing the Move to Amend initiative petition. Thanks to them, we passed an important milestone in the effort to amend the U.S. Constitution to firmly establish that individuals, not corporations, are entitled to constitutional rights. More than a symbolic gesture, passage of the initiative would instruct our U.S. and state representatives to take action on this issue.

On July 15, Move to Amend organizers learned that out of 3,093 signatures submitted to the Cleveland Heights Clerk of Council, the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections deemed 2,441 to be valid signatures of registered Cleveland Heights voters—an excellent validity rate of 79 percent. And that proved to be enough.

The petition drive got within sight—but short—of the Cleveland Heights City Charter requirement for valid signatures from 10 percent of the voters (3,390). But it turns out that the state requirement takes precedence, which is 10 percent of the actual votes cast at the most recent general municipal election. That total was 15,464 votes in November 2011, so only 1,547 valid signatures were actually needed for the petition to be acted upon.

For helping us surpass that requirement, Cleveland Heights Move to Amend thanks the 60 petition circulators and the community-minded business owners John Zagara of Zagara's Marketplace, who gave us permission to petition in the lobby and parking lot of his store; and Suzanne DeGaetano of Mac's Backs, who raised awareness with a big "thermometer" poster in her store window to track our progress and who, along with several of her employees, also circulated petitions.

Finally, thanks to the most important people of all—the voters who signed the "Corporations are not people, and money is not speech" initiative petition.

Now, we hope that Cleveland Heights City Council will vote at its Aug. 5 meeting to put our initiative on the November 2013 ballot so that all voters in Cleveland Heights will have a chance to call for a national return to the kind of democracy that’s been a treasured tradition in Cleveland Heights—where the voices of engaged citizens are heard and are not drowned out by dollars.

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