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County Council opts against charter review election

Post by Steve Maynard / The News Tribune on April 10, 2012 at 6:36 pm with No Comments »
April 10, 2012 7:54 pm

The Pierce County Council today shot down a council member’s proposal to have voters elect a charter review commission this year.

Council member Tim Farrell, D-Tacoma, wanted the public to elect a 21-member panel that would recommend changes to the county charter three years before the next required commission election in 2015.

Council Chairwoman Joyce McDonald, R-Puyallup, said the November presidential election ballot would become overcrowded with 21 more positions. She’s also concerned there would be only be a short time for people to decide whether to run before the mid-May filing period, preceding the Aug. 7 primary election.

“I just don’t think this is a good thing to be rushed,” McDonald said.

By a 4-2 vote, the council refused to approve a hearing date for Farrell’s proposal. There was no discussion.

After the meeting, Farrell said he was disappointed. He then requested his proposal be revised for later this year calling for the public to elect a charter review commission in 2013. Rick Talbert, D-Tacoma, said he would support that step, and McDonald said she’d consider it.

The County Council can propose charter amendments. It has put 12 on the ballot since 2007; voters have approved eight.

The charter – essentially the county’s constitution – requires the election of a charter review commission at least once every 10 years. The last one was elected in 2005.

“It makes sense to go out early because obviously we have a lot of questions,” Farrell said.

Council member Roger Bush, R-Frederickson, has proposed a charter amendment for the Nov. 6 ballot requiring any new county tax to be sent to voters for approval.

Farrell and Talbert cast the two “yes” votes supporting the commission election this year. Bush was absent.

At the earlier study session, Talbert voiced concern about having to rush a slate of charter candidates in the next few weeks. But in the end, “If we’re going to do anything,” Talbert said, “I’d rather have the citizens make the changes than for the council to be doing it.”

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