The people of Cuyahoga County have the ability, under Section 3 of Article X of the Ohio Constitution, to amend the county charter to make Cuyahoga County a municipal corporation while also remaining a county. That would mean that the county as a city would become, according to the 2019 census figures, the 10th largest city in the United States.
Such a charter amendment, which could be placed on the November 2020 ballot by a two-thirds vote of the Cuyahoga County Council, would require a simple majority vote for passage. Adoption of the charter amendment would not alter any of the existing governmental structures or powers of the county or of any of the cities, villages or other political subdivisions in the county.
Becoming one of country’s largest cities — and using the name Greater Cleveland — could have significant benefits. As the recently passed federal stimulus bill demonstrates, by providing larger amounts of federal money to local governments having a population of 500,000 or more, that population threshold is important generally in the allocation of federal money to local governments and could result in significantly greater federal financial allocations to this community.
Also important from an economic development standpoint would be the impact on the attractiveness of Greater Cleveland for business location and attraction of talented residents. During the past decade or so, there has been a notable increase in the pride that people in this region take in being associated with Cleveland. The proliferation of branded clothing items and such things as advertisers using the script Cleveland logo as a backdrop for commercials — as well as the desire of people to be photographed in front of that script — are evidence of that renewed sense of pride and identification with Cleveland.
Making the county also a city would create a greater ability to present and market the assets of Greater Cleveland to the rest of the nation and to the world. Adoption of this kind of charter amendment would not diminish or cost anything to any of the cities or villages in Cuyahoga County, and all of them would stand to benefit from the enhanced standing of Greater Cleveland.
Conversations to date with local leaders of business, government, entertainment, education, sports and business development have shown support for the idea of making Cuyahoga County and Greater Cleveland one of the largest cities in the United States. The people of Cuyahoga County can make that happen.
Eugene Kramer is the author of the current Cuyahoga County Charter and was instrumental in the writing and passage of the Summit County Charter approved in 1979. He has been practicing law in Greater Cleveland for more than 50 years. In addition to his focus on local and state government, public finance and public policy, Kramer’s extensive practice and civic involvement has included education, environmental protection, economic and infrastructure development, administrative law and general practice. He is a graduate of John Carroll University and Notre Dame Law School.
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