Thursday, July 2, 2009

Zanotti predicts reformers will submit 70,000 signatures by deadline

Parma Heights Mayor Martin Zanotti predicts the county reform effort will gather more than enough signatures to get a proposed charter on the November ballot.

"We expect to submit 70,000 signatures by the deadline," Zanotti told me yesterday.

The county reform group, now called Go Cuyahoga, wants to replace the current county government with a county executive and an 11-member county council. If it turns in 45,458 valid signatures by Monday, July 13, then county residents will vote on the proposal on November 3. (If they turn in 45,458 but some get declared invalid, they'll have until Sept. 4 to gather more and make up the difference. Zanotti's goal of 70,000 suggests they want to build up a cushion and get certified in the first round.)

Here is the proposed charter as a Word document.

Zanotti says Go Cuyahoga has 35 to 50 volunteer petition gatherers and another 35 or so paid signature-gatherers on the streets. The group hired National Petition Management, a petition-signature-gathering company, about two weeks ago. It's using a $100,000 donation it received last week from the Greater Cleveland Partnership (the regional chamber of commerce) to help pay NPM. That was a big help to the reformers, who had raised only $20,000 as of June 9.

Zanotti wouldn't say how many signatures they've collected so far. But the petition drive seems to be gaining momentum. I saw a couple of signature gatherers at the Waterloo Arts Festival on Saturday. This morning, a bunch of NPM workers were gathering signatures outside the county administration building and Justice Center.

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