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Cleveland Council Members Push for an Earlier Council Meeting so Q's Referendum Can Make the Ballot

photo of Jeff Johnson at Cleveland City Hall

Four Cleveland city council members are calling on the council president to reschedule a meeting in the hopes of putting the Q deal referendum on the Nov. 7 ballot.

The referendum would ask voters whether they support the city's plan to spend tax dollars on renovating Quicken Loans Arena. The city council clerk at first refused to accept petitions calling for a referendum. But the Ohio Supreme Court ruled this month that the city must accept the petitions.  

The battle now is about timing and the city's charter. The charter requires a referendum to be held at least 60 days after the council clerk notifies the council at a regularly scheduled meeting. That's why four council members – including Jeff Johnson, who’s running for mayor -- want the council president to move up next month's meeting to Sept. 6.

"You went down there; you caused the delay; you have to find a solution to this that doesn't cost the people any more money," he said.

If the issue isn't on the ballot in November, the city would have to hold a special election. The Cuyahoga County Board of Elections estimates that would cost taxpayers roughly $760,000.

The problem with a special election

“Nov. 7 you'll have more voters. Special elections, you'll have less voters. We want as many voters as possible to vote on this thing. And let us not ignore that we're talking about $700,000. Where's the money gonna come from?” Johnson said.