TALLMADGE — City voters may have the chance in November to decide whether the municipality’s primary election is changed from September to May.
City Council is reviewing legislation to put an issue on the fall ballot asking voters to approve a charter amendment that would change the city’s primary election from September to the first Tuesday after the first Monday in May.
Council gave a second reading to the legislation on Thursday night. A public hearing on the legislation is scheduled at the next council meeting on Aug. 23.
Mayor Dave Kline told Council on Thursday that moving the city’s primary will save the city money, will help the military service members and should lead to better voter turnout.
A petition drive is occurring in Akron to put the same question on the ballot after Akron City Council blocked a proposal from Mayor Dan Horrigan.
Kline said the events unfolding in Akron "doesn’t change my position."
Council members did not offer any comments on the proposal.
One of the main reasons to change the date is to give the board of elections time to certify the primary election results and then send the general election ballots to military service members serving overseas.
Under state law, each board of elections is required to mail absentee ballots to the military service members at least 45 days before the general election. Since there are just 56 days between the primary election in September and the general election in November, the legislation stated: "there are only 11 days after the primary election before the state-mandated deadline for mailing general election absentee ballots to military service members serving overseas."
At the same time, state law gives each board of elections 21 days after the primary election to complete the official canvass, but, as the legislation notes, if the board uses all 21 days, it would be sending the ballots to the military service members "ten days after the state mandated deadline."
Cuyahoga Falls City Council on July 23 voted unanimously in favor of putting the charter change request before voters in November.
Kline joined Horrigan and Cuyahoga Falls Mayor Don Walters at a press conference in July announcing the cities’ intentions to ask voters to approve a measure to move the local primary elections from September to May.
Kline said Green, Norton and New Franklin are also looking to put the request on the ballot.
Stow voters in November 2017 approved a ballot issue that eliminated the city’s primary election.
The deadline to submit the ballot issue to the Summit County Board of Elections is Sept. 7.
Conditional zoning certificate for athletic complex
Council on Thursday also unanimously granted a conditional zoning certificate to the Tallmadge school district for the construction of new athletic facilities north of the existing high school.
A conditional zoning certificate was previously granted for the 55-plus-acre site on which Tallmadge High School stands. Since the school district recently acquired additional land to accommodate all phases of the proposed athletic complex, increasing the site to 85-plus acres on North Munroe Road, review through the conditional zoning process was again required.
The certificate approved by Council concerns land from the current high school as well as the recent purchase of 2 acres from Community Baptist Church and 10 acres from Mindale Farms, north of the high school.
On Thursday, Councilman Craig Sisak raised concerns that the number of parking spaces may not be sufficient when multiple events take place at once. Steve Wood, chief operations officer with Tallmadge City Schools, and Greg Chaplin of Hasenstab Architects were both on hand for the meeting, and discussion included how to handle certain evenings when there is high demand for parking.
Chaplin previously said the project will unfold in phases. Phase one, which is expected to be completed by August 2019, will involve construction of a 3,360-seat stadium, with a turf field and synthetic track, he reported. Home bleachers are envisioned on the west side. The development would also add a new field house at the south end of the stadium, Chaplin said, which will include home and visitor locker rooms, a concession stand, offices and some storage. As funds become available, Chaplin said phase two will be the development of the existing Munroe School site into a baseball field.
The Planning Commission in July unanimously approved moving the conditional zoning issue forward to Council.
Editor’s note: Reporter Ellin Walsh contributed to this story.
Reporter Phil Keren can be reached at 330-541-9421, firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter at @keren_phil.