Two grassroots initiatives prepare for February special election

Two grassroots initiatives prepare for February special election

TOLEDO (WTOL) - Toledo residents spent more than a year fighting to get two initiatives on a ballot. Finally they have and you’ll get a vote on Febuary 26 during a special election.

"We found out we can do something and as we started to do something we found out we could do a lot more than we ever understood," said Christine Franks of Point Place.

In just three weeks, Toledo residents can cast their ballot early for the February special election. There are two grassroots initiatives you will vote on the Lake Erie Bill of Rights and Keep the Jail in Downtown.

Both groups have been busy actively fundraising and working hard to prepare their campaign for Toledo residents.

It’s go time for two local groups headed to the ballot this February.

"We have too much to lose," said Markie Miller, organizer with Toledoans for Clean Water. "Everything is at stake here."

"I'm hoping that the passion that we have to keep this jail downtown will bring the people out," said Mary Dutkowski, a leader with Keep the Jail in Downtown Toledo.

It’s been nearly a year since the group Keep the Jail in Downtown Toledo announced their petition in this room, now they stood in the same space for their first campaign meeting. While voters overwhelmingly turned down the jail bond in November, the group says it’s not over.

"We need to seal the deal," said Dutkowski. "We do have people that think because they voted against the levy that the issue is over and it's not. They will be back, they will try to find a way to build this jail and we must let our commissioners, our leaders know the jail belongs downtown."

Several began getting signatures for the charter amendment change in 2018 and now they are preparing mailers and signs for the special election. It's a fight they say they believe in.

"If we give up and move away and let them do what they want here and then you go to another neighborhood or you live somewhere else and they want to move something else in when do you quit moving?" questioned Christine Franks. "We are the government and we have a say so."

Toledoans for Safe Water also have been battling to get their issue, The Lake Erie Bill of Rights on the ballot.

"We realize that if we don't fight for it who else is going to," said Markie Miller, organizer. "We can't sit here and be vulnerable and call for help after a problem strikes."

They have created signs, mailers and are ready to start canvasing their message. If passed the initiative would hold polluters of the lake accountable in court.

"This gives us a strong local voice to say we're stewards of Lake Erie and we're going to be a voice in determining what that looks like," said Miller.

Both groups admit it hasn't been easy to get to this point and their fight continues. They both are working to raise funds to spread their message to as many as possible in hopes that they will get out and vote.

Keep the Jail Downtown has raised close to $8,000 and Lake Erie Bill of Rights about $4,000, but they say their main plan is to get out and talk with Toledo voters up until Election Day on February 26th.

There is still time to register to vote for the special election. Early voting begins at the Early Vote Center on January 29th. If you want to learn more or check your polling location visit the Lucas County Board of Elections.

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