‘Welcoming’ language inserted in city charter preamble

Bowling Green City Council meeting Monday evening

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN

BG Independent News

 

Not everyone on City Council welcomed the same language proclaiming Bowling Green as a “welcoming” community. But after some word wrangling and drawn out analysis, the city charter got a new preamble Monday evening.

The new preamble makes a statement about the city being welcoming, inclusive and non-discriminatory.

It reads as follows:

“We the people of Bowling Green, in the county of Wood, and in the State of Ohio, desirous of securing for our City and for ourselves and our children the advantages of self-government conferred by the home-rule provisions of the Ohio constitution; and determined to be a welcoming, inclusive community with adherence to practices of non-discrimination as established by law; do hereby ordain and establish the following Charter.”

Council member Daniel Gordon, who led the effort for the preamble change, acknowledged the compromise that went into the wording. After words had been added and subtracted, the preamble commits the city to “standing with marginalized communities within Bowling Green,” he said.

The preamble change was supported by all but one City Council member – Bruce Jeffers.

“I appreciate the language you put together,” Jeffers said, noting that his fellow council members “fought it out” until they reached a good compromise.

Though he approved of the wording, Jeffers said the welcoming statement did not belong in the city charter. They were the “right words in the wrong place,” so he voted against the preamble change.

Council member Bill Herald said he understood Jeffers’ concerns, and he reminded council how the vote to pursue the preamble change narrowly passed by a vote of 4 to 3.

However, Herald commended the work of the council committee, which included himself, Gordon and John Zanfardino. There was “spirited” and “respectful” discussion which resulted in a worthy compromise.

After wrestling with the meaning of the term “welcoming,” the committee arrived at wording that did not detract from the purpose of the preamble, Herald said.

“It goes with the type of community we want Bowling Green to be,” he said.

Council members Gordon, Herald, Zanfardino, Mike Aspacher, Greg Robinette and Sandy Rowland voted in favor of the preamble change.

But Robinette challenged council to look further if it wants to truly be welcoming.

“If we really care for the well-being of citizens,” council should look at the city’s codified ordinances, he said.

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