Letters to the Editor

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COUNTY: Election change would cut participation

Letter by Ann Dasch, Anderson Island on July 24, 2013 at 11:26 am with No Comments »
July 24, 2013 2:07 pm

RE: “Council proposes odd-year elections” (TNT, 7-20).

Pierce County Council member Doug Richardson’s county election proposal will cost $475,000 more in odd years, and might reduce the cost in some even years by $360,000. Richardson says a difference of $115,000 to $475,000 every two years is “pretty close to a wash.” Is he kidding?

This is the same County Council whose Republican members balked at changing their meeting to the evening, when more citizens could participate, citing the $13,300 per year additional cost (TNT, 3-26). Now they want to spend much more to reduce public participation in our local government.

Who would benefit from odd-year elections? Incumbents, especially six members of the County Council. Under this proposal, they could win re-election and get a fifth year, earning more than $107,000 from county taxpayers. Four of those six are Republicans. Democrat Rick Talbert voted against sending this proposal to the council.

Who loses here? Taxpayers. Richardson’s plan costs significantly more.

Who else loses? First-time candidates. In my 2012 race against Richardson, I benefited greatly from the knowledge, volunteer support and exposure I received from experienced candidates who ran for legislative district and higher offices. I would have had far less direct contact with voters and elected officials in an odd year.

Who loses most? Citizens. Fewer than half of registered voters participate in odd-numbered years, while 70 percent to 81 percent vote in even-numbered years. Officials do not represent “we the people” if fewer than half of us elect them.

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