COLUMBUS—The Libertarian Party of Ohio is continuing its fight to protect Ohio voters’ rights to vote for the candidate of their choice. In Cincinnati, a long-time LPO activist, Jim Berns, has filed to run for mayor and been attacked by major media in the city for “forcing [a] $400, 000 primary.” In Columbus, Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted (R) affirmed that the LPO and three other “minor” parties will retain ballot access in 2013.
Berns, a former candidate for Congress, filed late last month, submitting more than 1000 signatures, twice the requirement for a spot on the ballot. On Tuesday, an article by Jane Prendergast on Cincinnati.com, a Gannett outlet, linked Berns’s filing with the need for the city to hold a mayoral primary. A 1999 city charter amendment requires a special primary, which would be held on September 10 this year, whenever there are more than two candidates for the office of mayor. While Berns is the only candidate to have filed so far, two veteran Democrat politicians are expected to file before the June 27 deadline.
The primary is a variant of the “top two” system used statewide in Washington and California, which often results in the general election being limited to two candidates of the same party, all other parties shut out. The system, touted as a way to open up the political process, has produced record levels of incumbent reelection instead. Hamilton County Budget Supervisor John Bruggen called for the primary to be switched to the same date as the state’s, May 7, reducing the cost, but that would require another city charter amendment.
Berns places the blame for the primary on Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls, one of the prospective Democratic candidates, who as “mayor at the time, was knee deep in getting the Charter Amendment drafted and passed.” Calling the current system unfair, Berns calls for eliminating the primary and replacing it with “a direct election of the Mayor at the November election with all qualifying candidates participating.” Of course either of the two Democrat candidates could also avoid the need for a primary simply by deciding not to file for the race.
LPO Chair Kevin Knedler notes that “holding elections is at the core of what government is supposed to do. It’s certainly out of line to blame Jim Berns for giving Cincinnati voters a real choice, rather than leaving them to have to choose between two members of the same party.”
Husted’s announcement came in a January 31 directive sent out to the boards of elections in each of the state’s 88 counties. In it, Husted said, “Consistent with the Federal District Court’s order on October 18, 2011, I am recognizing the Libertarian Party as a minor party.”
The order referred to in the directive resulted from a lawsuit by the LPO challenging Ohio’s ballot access laws. The LPO has been forced into court against each of the last three Ohio secretaries of state to protect the right of Ohioans to choose candidates beyond those selected by the Republican and Democrat “legacy” parties. Each time, the court has decided in favor of the Libertarian Party of Ohio.
The decision allows Ohio Libertarian candidates to run under the party label in all partisan races this year. While there are no state or Federal races in odd years, many local races in cities and towns across Ohio are partisan. In addition, there will be wide variety of non-partisan races in other localities, and school board races in every school district in the state are also generally non-partisan, which means all candidates run without a party label appearing next to their name on the ballot.
“The LPO offers another choice for voters, something that they expect every day in their lives as consumers and shoppers,” Knedler said.
For more information, please reach Communications Director Aaron Keith Harris at firstname.lastname@example.org or 937-825-0204
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CINCINNATI—One of the Libertarian Party of Ohio's most dedicated and energetic members filed paperwork with the Hamilton County Board of Elections Tuesday to run for mayor of Cincinnati.
Jim Berns, a University of Cincinnati faculty member, submitted more than 1,100 signatures gathered by himself and local volunteers, though only 500 signatures were required. Democrat and Republican officials often go out of their way to try to invalidate signatures gathered by Libertarians, making the extra effort a wise precaution.
Cincinnati voters will choose a new mayor in November.