There are three levels of government in Ohio. These are federal, state and local. Each level can make its own laws. The way the state and federal governments make laws are fairly standardized through their respective constitutions. At the local level, cities have options for how they make their laws. Citizens, like you, often get to vote on the type of government you want. One option, which Westerville uses, is home rule charter.

A home rule charter, according to the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, is where the citizens draft their local government rules. It is a way to customize the local laws to fit the community. It also provides you with more power over how your local government operates.

It puts the city more in charge of local issues than the state by removing the rule that the state can limit the power of the city. However, this does not mean anything goes. Your local laws must comply with state and federal laws. On the other hand, you do have the ability to make laws that are stricter than state or federal laws. A good example, is when localities decided to raise the legal age limit for buying tobacco products before the federal government raised the age limit.

In essence, home rule charter puts the citizens in charge and gives them the ability to shape and define their community in the way they want through laws that will communicate their values and ideas. It is a good way to bring the community together as well since everyone has a say in what happens. This information is for education and is not legal advice.