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State, City, and Community Leaders Express Sharp Criticism of Issue 7

Columbus City Council President Shannon Hardin speaks Wednesday at a press conference held by city and state leaders voicing opposition to Issue 7.
Scott Good
Columbus City Council President Shannon Hardin speaks Wednesday at a press conference held by city and state leaders, who voiced opposition to Issue 7.

City and state lawmakers said that the clean energy issue on next week's ballot could hurt Black communities.

Leaders from Columbus City Council, the Columbus Urban League, and democratic officials said in a press conference on Wednesday that the green energy language in Issue 7 disguises the fact that money will be taken away from services that help the public, including minorities.

Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther called the issue a scam because he said the issue's proponents manipulated the democratic process to deal themselves public tax dollars through a ballot issue.

”This is a scam and the people’s lives of this community and in our neighborhoods is not a game," said Ginther. "We need folks to step up, get out, vote, and oppose this issue.”

ProEnergy LLC’s Issue 7 claims that it will reduce the cost of electricity for residential customers in Columbus through a subsidy to purchase from clean energy sources. Voters will decide on Tuesday whether to pass Issue 7, the only issue on this November's ballot.

Columbus City Council President Shannon Hardin said the proponents' progressive, green energy language on Issue 7 misleads the public.

“They’re trying to trick folks because the ballot language sounds good, and they’re using words -- because they know we as a community support our minority contractors, they know we as a community support clean energy, and so they use these words to try to trick us,” said Hardin.

President and CEO of the Columbus Urban League Stephanie Hightower said the ballot issue is a sign of disrespect to the African American Community.

“And so for us, this is disrespectful for these people to think that they can come into our community and take ten percent of the budget for, especially, human service needs that are very much needed in our community and have already not really been dealt with for many, many years,” said Hightower.

Also expressing strong opposition to Issue 7 at the press conference Wednesday were State Sen. Hearcel Craig (D-Columbus), State Rep. Dontavius Jarrells (D-Columbus), and Elder Larry Price of the NAACP of Columbus.