Making Democracy Work

Position Statements

The League of Women Voters of Kent expresses a position on various issues of concern to the communities it serves. However, it does so only after a formal study has been conducted, consensus has been reached among the League's members and the text of the position has been approved by the League's board.

The Kent League has official position statments on the following local issues:

  • Parks and Recreation
  • Land Use and Zoning
  • Charter of Kent City
  • Kent City Finances
  • Portage County Jail (Justice System)
  • Kent City Schools

Parks and Recreation

History: The League's position on this issue was adopted in 1965 and updated in 1968, 1985 and 2006.

The League supports:

  • Adequate park facilities in Kent and Portage County.
  • Kent City providing park and recreation programs for all ages.
  • Kent City providing adequate funding to maintain these programs. Property tax levies, program and developers' fees are appropriate revenue sources for park and recreation funds.
  • Kent City regulations to allow developers' fees to more closely reflect current land market values in lieu of land for parks.
  • Continued cooperation between the Kent Parks and Recreation Department and the Kent City School System to ensure adequate gymnasium and meeting space for Kent City recreation programming in addition to the continued operation of the community pool at Kent Roosevelt High School.
  • The use of federal/state funds and programs to develop and maintain both city and county parks and programs.
  • Establishment of a broad based source of revenue for the Portage Park District that would provide adequate funds for: the conservation of environmentally sensitive natural areas; a system of greenways and hike/bike trails connecting communities and parkland throughout Portage County; partnerships with townships and municipalities in land conservation projects; expansion of environmental education programs. Specific broad based sources of funding could be a county park levy, designated developers' fees, transfer tax allocations or other viable options.
  • Active planning and collaborative efforts among regional governmental units such as the Portage County Commissioners, townships, municipalities and Portage Park District to enhance the conservation and protection of the natural heritage of Portage County, which might include watersheds, wetlands, forests, and other environmentally sensitive areas.

Land Use and Zoning

History: The League's position on this issue was adopted in 1959 and was updated in 1985 and 1996. A third update began in 1999 was completed in 2003.

The League supports:

  • Development of a countywide comprehensive plan that incorporates principles of sustainable growth and is consistent with existing land use plans of local governmental subdivisions. This planning process should be undertaken with representation of all governmental subdivisions under the guidance of the Portage County Regional Planning Commission.
  • Updating of the county's subdivision regulations to include encouragement of sustainable development.
  • Adoption by governmental subdivisions of zoning ordinances which are based on the county's comprehensive plan and include:

    > Prescribed setbacks with appropriate vegetation requirements that would establish adequate buffer zones to protect wetlands, floodplains, wildlife habitat, and other environmentally sensitive areas.

    > Conservation development overlay districts that permit higher density cluster homes while designating common open space and wooded lots.

  • Implementation of the Portage County Farmland Preservation Plan that:

    > Establishes growth centers determined by the availability of water, wastewater treatment, and other utility infrastructures.

    > Provides for public financing of PDR's (purchase of development rights).

    > Encourages use of conservation and agricultural easements as well as developer's purchase of TDRs (transfer of development rights).

  • Development of a transportation system throughout the county that is intermodal in nature, including networks of pedestrian and bicycle trails and greenways connecting communities and providing regional transit and rail alternatives to major commercial and employment centers.
  • Meaningful public involvement of stakeholders and citizens, especially neighborhoods and school systems, affected by land use decisions of local government entities.

Charter of Kent City

History: The League's position on this issue was adopted in 1967 and updated in 1975, 1981 and 2017.

The League supports:

  • Local self-government for the City of Kent.
  • Retention of a charter for Kent in order that the form of government, system of representation and election system of the city may be locally determined.
  • Continuation of the council-manager form of government for Kent. Full responsibility for the administration of the city should be vested in the manager, the city's chief executive.
  • In conjunction with this form of government, the charter should provide for the appointment of a manager by city council and recognize the subordinate position of staff department heads to the manager. All staff department heads should be appointed by and be responsible to the manager. Department heads, such as the Director of Law and Director of Finance, should not be directly elected by the voters.
  • The present system of electing council both from wards and at-large. Four-year terms for council should be retained, as should the present system of staggering terms. Council should be elected by wards that are substantially equal in population.
  • The election of Mayor and council members via nonpartisan elections.
  • The power of electors to remove from office by recall election any officer of the City. A petition signed by no less than 15% of the voters registered in the City of Kent to sign a petition to place on the ballot recall of Mayor or Council-at-Large, or in the case of a ward councilperson 15% of the voters registered in the ward in question.
  • The review of the Charter occurring on even numbered years, as needed, but not to exceed 10 years between reviews.

Kent City Finances

History: The League's position on this issue was adopted in 1983 and updated in 1984. A third update began in 1999 and was completed in 2013.

The League believes that the primary responsibility of city government is to provide basic services and therefore supports the provision of the following basic services and funding sources:

  • Fire protection: Property tax, income tax and general fund revenue.
  • Police Protection: Income tax revenue, though not necessarily the sole source of funding.
  • Water and Sewer: Assessment of a fee for each service.
  • Street Upkeep: Income tax revenue, though not necessarily the sole source of funding.
  • Emergency Medical Assistance: Income tax revenue.

Municipal facilities supporting basic services as outlined in the position, including design, construction, equipment, any necessary property acquisition and debt service, shall be supported through property tax, income tax and general fund revenue, government funding, private grants and user fees as appropriate.

The League also believes the city should improve its SCMR (street construction, maintenance and reconstruction) and long-range planning, find ways to enhance the city's economic base and continually promote good working relations among the public, the city administration and Kent State University.

Portage County Jail (Justice) System

History: The League's position on this issue was developed by the Leagues of Woman Voters of Northern Portage County and the League of Women Voters of Kent and was adopted in 1984 and updated in 1997 to change the name to "Portage County Justice System." The position was updated in 2018.

The Leagues supports:

  • An integrated approach to solving jail-related problems through cooperation among the county's judicial, executive and law enforcement branches.
  • Financing for the jail and all recommended services from government funds and private grants.
  • The use of alternative sentencing for nonviolent offenders, including the expansion of both the mental health and drug courts.

Transparency:
  • Records documenting the use of funds seized through civil forfeiture and the auditing of such funds should be available to the public.
  • Collection of local demographic data in order to identify trends in arrests, arraignments, convictions and incarceration and the provision of such data to national databases.

Comprehensive health care:
  • Provision of a medical evaluation upon intake.
  • Clear and available documentation of medical and behavioral health assessments and treatments maintained in readily accessible files for further use by the system and community-based healthcare/treatment facilities.
  • Licensed health care professionals shall determine and meet the healthcare needs of those jailed.
  • Behavioral health assessment and treatment by appropriately trained personnel from arrest through release from the justice system. This would include development and implementation of wrap-around services post-discharge from the jail or from mental health or drug specialty dockets.
  • Provision of evidence-based treatment for both physical and behavioral health needs.
  • Continuation of prescribed medication in jail, including Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) to treat addiction.
  • Communication between the jail's health care providers and primary care providers in the community to facilitate care coordination.
  • Development and implementation of an ombudsman program for families and those jailed.
  • Evaluation of contracted health services by community stakeholders.

A well-trained police force reflective of the community served:
  • Continuing and mandating Crisis Intervention Team training.
  • Enhancing community interaction of police officers with an emphasis on their role as peace keepers.
  • Critical incident debriefing and the provision of treatment if indicated.
  • Periodic psychological screening of law enforcement officers.
  • Increased recruitment of law enforcement officers.

Fair, equitable and minimal imposition of bail:
  • Minimization of the use of bail and the use of evidence-based tools when setting bail is deemed necessary.

Affordable court costs:
  • Payment of court costs and fines through alternatives such as community service, enrollment in education or training programs, and participation in treatment/counseling.
  • Sufficient time to pay fines and court costs assessed on a sliding scale based on personal resources.
  • The use of funds seized through civil forfeiture and auditing of such funds should be publicly available.

Kent City Schools

History: The League`s position on this issue was adopted in 1986 and updated and condensed in 1999. The following is a statement of the condensed position adopted at the 1999 annual meeting. The position was updated in 2003 and 2017.

The League of Women Voters of Kent strongly supports public school systems which are empowered by and responsive to the communities they serve. The League supports school systems that strive to provide students with a quality, comprehensive education and exhibit financial responsibility and stability. A system's ability to be a model educational institution stems from its dedicated, well-trained staff and fine physical facilities that are made possible through voter and community support.

Citizen Participation

The League supports:

  • Ongoing citizen participation in the planning, development and review of all areas of Kent education programs. The League believes that active citizen participation is critical to ensure that the district is responsive to the changing needs of the Kent community that supports it.
  • Encouragement of Kent citizens' substantive and continuous input through easy access to available information concerning the health, accomplishments, strengths, and weaknesses of the school system. It is the school system's responsibility to provide an aggressive and open public information program that is scheduled into the school calendar, advertised and accessible to all who wish to participate. This can further be accomplished through use of the district's website, small group meetings with District staff members, and printed communication.
  • Increased citizen participation through implementation of citizen advisory councils in each building, advertised public hearings, and the appointment of ad hoc committees to address specific concerns, such as facilities planning, curriculum changes, and financial planning.

Financial Accountability

The League recommends:

  • Bond issues be considered for capital projects and major improvement projects. The limited use of current operating funds for minor capital improvements is acceptable.
  • The District continues efforts to explain its needs for additional funds to potential voters on its own website and in its newsletter, in the local paper, and through any other means.

Planning

The League recommends:

  • The District actively and aggressively seek public input on policy and planning issues--including long-range financial planning and facilities planning--before decisions are made on these matters.
  • The District actively share the long range plans it has adopted with the community. If members of the community have concerns about planning issues, we encourage them to communicate directly with the administration or the Board of Education.
  • Ad hoc committees should have clearly stated goals and time frames that are understood by all who participate. The district should value the results of such efforts and seriously consider any recommendations that are offered and provide feedback on the manner in which the recommendations were addressed.
  • The ongoing efforts by the District to use feedback should be encouraged on all levels, national, state and/or local, to establish planning that will guide and move the district toward improvement.

Curriculum Development

The League supports:

  • The continued focus on increased instructional time for all students from preschool through high school.
  • Opportunities for individual creativity in writing and a continuing emphasis on critical thinking skills, problem solving and decision-making skills.
  • A well-integrated reading and language arts program that incorporates strategies designed to meet individual learning styles and abilities. The League further supports expansion of learning experiences across the spectrum of student capabilities and needs, including the continual growth of gifted educational services and the longstanding Six District Educational Compact in which Kent participates.
  • The continuing availability and expansion of technology for students and staff. Continuing integration of technology into curricular instruction is recommended along with additional opportunities for distance learning. The Kent City School District should continue to provide appropriate technical staff, which is crucial for the efficient and effective use of technology.
  • The wide variety of curriculum and co-curricular offerings at the secondary level.
  • The District's remediation programs that enable students, at all levels, to stay in school and reach their full potential.
  • The continued incorporation of strategies and curricular content which promotes emotional well-being, social competence and emotional intelligence at every grade level.

Intergovernmental Cooperation and Regional Tax-Base Revenue Sharing

History: At the 2010 annual meeting, LWV Kent concurred with the position adopted/concnurred in 2009 by the LWV Cuyahoga Area, Cleveland Area and Shaker Heights.

The League of Women Voters of Kent supports voluntary intergovernmental, collaborative agreements which reduce costs, foster transparency and accountability, improve efficiencies and maintain service standards. Such agreements:

  • Are appropriate at local, county, metropolitan, multiple-county or regional levels.
  • Should be practical and of manageable size.
  • Should demonstrate the interconnectedness of all neighboring communities. The League of Women Voters of Kent supports regional tax-base revenue sharing as a constructive form of intergovernmental cooperation for the mutual benefit of participating communities. Such a program should:
  • Advance smart growth, economic development and fiscal equity within the target area.
  • Impact positively upon infrastructure, housing, education, recreation, inclusion and/or shared public facilities.
  • Set standards for finance, staffing and administration that are consistent, accountable, transparent and efficient.
  • Pool contributions from an agreed portion of new growth in local commercial and industrial property tax revenue.
  • Distribute that revenue pool among participating communities to further fiscal equity across the area.
  • Honor local sovereignty and school funding resources, be flexible, and grow with time.
  • Allow the participating communities to determine and periodically review the formulas for collection and allocations.