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The case for changing Ruston’s format

Post by News Tribune Staff on Aug. 8, 2008 at 12:09 pm with No Comments »
August 8, 2008 12:09 pm

Sherri Forch chaired the committee to provide the Yes statement in the voter’s guide to change Ruston’s form of government.

Her argument is that, with the future of Ruston at a crossroads, the job is simply too much for one person:

"I’d like to be on the record that I supported (former mayor) Michael Transue. I wrote the (town) newsletter as a volunteer. Volunteering is alive and well down here. … But it’s the mayor’s newsletter and it has to have his approval, so I would write it and it would be two or three days before I could get to it. My point is that a citizen mayor, with a career with two teenage daughters, has to go to soccer games and chaperone school dances – in other words, he’s got a life. A citizen mayor with a life just doesn’t have the time, the energy."

"I don’t think it’s fair to ask a citizen to be a mayor. There’s too much responsibility. With all the development going on, we need someone that’s involved 9-to-5."

She added that a full-time administrator might not be needed 10 or 20 years in the future after developments like Point Ruston are finished. But with so much changing in the community, she said, the town needs someone full-time.

It’s not reasonable to ask a citizen to do this anymore. It’s too specialized. There’s too much too knowledge. You need a consultant for this, a consultant for that. You need an attorney to protect the mayor from missteps. The regulations are so complicated, you need a professional.

A town manager will likely earn between $75,000-100,000. Forsch said the town should actually save money because it spends more on consultants and outside legal help.

"We’ve got to pay them. I know it, and I’m all for it. I know it’s expensive, but we’re paying consultants and consultants and consultants."

The town also needs someone to provide full-time supervision of its employees. And she added that other cities in the area – such as Fife, Fircrest, Federal Way, University Place and Lakewood – have administrators.

"We have well-intentioned citizens running the ship. If the ship goes aground, it’s because we probably didn’t hire a professional. It’s that simple."

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