We Won: Cincinnati Parking Petition Drive Turned in 19,800 Signatures
April 9, 2013
Last Thursday the campaign against the Cincinnati parking deal turned in its signatures: more than 19,800.
To put repeal of the deal on the ballot as a city-wide referendum this November, WCPO explains, we needed
8,729 signatures of registered voters who live within city limits. That’s 10 percent of the turnout in Cincinnati for the last gubernatorial election.
(The total population of the city is a little under 300,000, in case you’re wondering.)
Both COAST’s Chris Finney and local NAACP president Christopher Smitherman estimate, based on past experience, that about 70% of the signatures are valid—that is, non-duplicate, properly written signatures and addresses of people registered to vote in Cincinnati proper. With the number of signatures we turned in, we’ll be fine even if only 45% of them turn out to be valid. In other words, technically it’s not certain until the government has taken the time to check them, but it’s practically guaranteed at this point that we’ve succeeded and repeal will be on the ballot in November—though there are already indications that the liberal majority on City Council could respond to losing this fight with their constituents by doing it all over again! (As COAST remarked recently, the price of liberty is eternal vigilance…)
This was an impressively broad bi-partisan coalition. The campaign against the parking deal was led by Democrat John Cranley (running for mayor), Republican once and future councilman Amy Murray, independent current councilman Christopher Smitherman, and Pete Witte (pronounced “witty”), who has run for office as a Republican in the past but is more recently described as a West Side activist. On the ground, signature collectors ran the gamut, from the very conservative (me and others I know) to a guy wearing a “proud to be everything the right wing hates” button. Also notable was Libertarian mayoral candidate Jim Berns, who apparently volunteered as a simple signature collector like the rest of us, and personally gathered hundreds.
As Pete Witte remarked when he and the other three leaders went to turn them in, the only way a petition drive gets this many signatures is if people are seeking out and running up to the collectors, eager to sign. If my experience is any indication, the vast majority of Cincinnati is in agreement, against the parking deal.
Last week, [Mayor] Mallory urged residents not to sign the referendum petitions.
“People need to not sign a petition,” the mayor said at a March 28 press conference. “If you sign a petition, you’re laying off a cop or firefighter.”
The statement didn’t sit well with the leaders of the police and firefighter unions.
“Police and fire are getting so tired of being pitted against the citizens,” said Kathy Harrell, president of the local Fraternal Order of Police chapter. “The mayor’s comments are not helpful.”
- Cincinnati Enquirer, “Parking opponents: 19,803 signatures” (includes video of Thursday’s press conference
- The campaign’s official site, Cincinnati Parking Petitions .com
- “The Latest on the Cincinnati Parking Sell-out: Referendum Kick-off Drew Surprisingly Large Crowd; Court Hearing This Week on Whether to Allow Referendum”