Middletown Charter Referendum, 2009

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A Middletown Charter Referendum was on the November 3, 2009 ballot in Butler County for voters in the City of Middletown.

The referendum proposed reducing the size of Middletown City Council and eliminating the ward system.

The measure was placed on the ballot due to supporters collecting enough 1,200 valid signatures by August 20, 2009. Mayor Larry Mulligan and Councilmen Bill Becker, Tony Marconi and Jim Armbruster have all voiced their support for the referendum. However, in July 2009 the council rejected the measure by 1 vote. Council members David Schiavone, Anita Scott Jones and Leslie Ford voted no. They said they did not believe the ward system should be eliminated.[1]

Election result

Butler County Issue 26
Result Votes Percentage
Approveda Yes 4405 52.58%
No 3972 47.42%
Total votes 8377 100.00%
Voter turnout 36.61%



The issue over the town's ward system is an ongoing debate. The current ward system was established in 1990 with a vote of 4,892 in favor and 4,699 opposed. In 1981 an attempt to reduce the system to 4 ward representatives and one at-large representative was defeated.[3]


Opponents of the charter referendum argue that, if approved, it would be a step backward "in the true representation of all the citizens of Middletown." Merrell Wood, chairman of the Middletown Park Board, said that the "current structure encourages diversity and affordability for any candidates who not only desire to serve their city, but, more important, the variety of small communities within our whole community." Wood added that the city should not support the referendum because if approved the elimination of the ward system will return the city to day when "politics were controlled by the affluent from the same part of town."[4]

Ballot questions

The ballot language for Butler County Issue 26 reads:

Shall Article II, Section 2 and first paragraph of Article II, Section 3 of the Charter of the City of Middletown be amended to provide for the election of five (5) members of City Council (reduced from the present number of seven (7) members), consisting of a mayor and four (4) members, all of whom would be elected at-large (amended from the present system where four members of City Council are elected from wards of the city), effective beginning with the general election of 2013?