Chillicothe Red-Light and Speed Camera Referendum, 2009
On September 2, 2009 the Ross County Board of Elections ruled to keep the ballot measure on the November ballot, after the City of Cincinnati filed a protest against the ballot language. City officials argued that the language was "misleading" and "unconstitutional." James Mann, assistant law director, argued that the ordinance would not only affect the automated system but also the radar and speed enforcement used by officers on their patrols. However, Citizens Against Photo Enforcement (CAPE) say that Mann's argument is false. CAPE's ordinance, as currently proposed, only affects automated red-light and speed cameras, not those used by an officer. In addition to the ruling, the board noted, "Access to the ballot ... is one of the most fundamental rights an American can enjoy."
In November 2008 local residents and members of CAPE filed a lawsuit against the city's camera provider, Redflex Inc., requesting that camera enforcement be suspended. Soon after, in December, a temporary restraining order was issued requiring the city to suspend use of camera enforcement. However, the lawsuit was withdrawn in March 2009 after the suspension was lifted. The Chillicothe Red-Light and Speed Camera Referendum was proposed shortly thereafter.
Assistant Law Director James Mann filed a protest on behalf of the city alleging that parts of the petition for referendum violates state law. According to the complaint, the Ohio and U.S. Constitution were violated as well, stating that the referendum language is confusing and misleading to voters.
The protest goes into detail stating that the referendum is broad and takes away power from police officers who patrol roads and watch for people who run red lights. Legal powers would also be taken away from council members, according to the protest.
Despite the claims from the city, C.A.P.E President Rebekah Valentich has taken a strong stance opposing the city’s protest, stating her organization would hire an attorney to keep the measure alive.
In a move to take the issue to a higher court, Mann asked the city board of elections to conduct a quasi-judicial hearing on the issue and asked the Ohio Supreme Court to make a ruling on if the measure should be taken off the November ballot. On September 2, the city board of elections voted unanimously to keep the measure on the ballot, saying that while they may not agree with it, they still believe the voters should have the choice. Mann is hoping the issue will move quickly through the court so that there is a ruling before the election.
- Chillicothe Gazette,"Red-light camera ban petition OK'd for ballot," August 25, 2009
- Chillicothe Gazette,"Board to keep red light issue on ballot," September 2, 2009
- Newark Advocate,"Chillicothe elections board to rule on putting red-light cameras on ballot," September 2, 2009
- Chillicothe Gazette, "C.A.P.E. vows to fight city protest", August 17, 2009
- Chillicothe Gazette, "City to appeal BOE's traffic-camera ruling," September 30, 2009
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