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What is a ‘Charter City’?

Updated: Jul 10

Article by Dustin Pearce

Over the past year, I’ve interviewed numerous leaders in Wilmington businesses, nonprofits, and government with the simple goal of highlighting what is good about this place we call home (see What I’ve learned is that Wilmington is proud to have some amazing people and infrastructure. However, I’ve also learned that our current ‘Statutory City’ government means that: 1) our city’s rules default to generic state statutes instead of ones locally created and voted upon; 2) key city employees are “appointed” instead of “hired” based on qualifications, and; 3) projects and vision for our city can completely change, be canceled, or reset every 4-years.

I believe this lack of control, quality, and consistency is stifling Wilmington’s success. Our city has a major airpark, accredited college, historic theatre, and incredibly resilient people—plus we are strategically located between Cincinnati, Columbus, and Dayton. So there’s no reason why Wilmington shouldn’t be as, or more, successful than neighbor cities like Lebanon, who in 1960 declared Statutory Law to be “cumbersome, expensive, and poorly adapted to the needs of a municipality.”

That’s why I think it’s time we consider becoming a ‘Charter City’—to empower our community and locally elected City Council/Mayor to make policies that fit our city while partnering with a professional full-time City Manager to consistently execute a better vision for Wilmington’s success: a better downtown people like to explore, a better police force to keep public spaces safe and clean, and a better school system to attract and keep families.

I believe we are a community of empowered individuals who can get stuff done—like rebuild our rec center again. So let’s stop being led by default statues, and let’s charter our success. Learn more at

Dustin Pearce
Dustin Pearce



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