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Gig Harbor opposes shrinking Pierce County Council

Post by Christian Hill / The News Tribune on July 26, 2011 at 2:05 pm with 1 Comment »
July 26, 2011 2:10 pm

The Gig Harbor City Council formally opposed Monday night the proposal to pare down the Pierce County Council on a 4-3 vote.

The passage came the same day that a county council committee advanced the plan to ask voters to reduce the number of county council members from seven to five. The full county council is scheduled to vote on it Aug. 9.

Council members Steve Ekberg, Ken Malich, Paul Kadzick and Derek Young voted in favor of the resolution. Council members Paul Conan, Jim Franich and Tim Payne opposed it.

The resolution notes the proposal would add about 45,000 residents to the remaining five districts, “further diluting representation on the west side of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge.”

It adds “the peninsulas and more specifically, the City of Gig Harbor already struggle to have their voice heard by the County Council.”

(The resolution attached to a staff report is available here.)

Councilman Derek Young, who brought the resolution forward for council consideration, said adding tens of thousands of residents to the district diminishes its political pull in another way.

“It would make it less likely that a representative would come from the peninsula when in the past it has been an expectation,” he said.

The recently concluded redistricting process drew County Councilman Stan Flemming, a former University Place councilman who represents the peninsula, out of his current district.

Flemming voiced support for the proposal on Monday, and Young said another reason for the resolution was to get him to change his mind. Young had a brief telephone conversation with Flemming on Monday before the council meeting.

Council members who voted against the resolution did not immediately return phone messages seeking comment, but Young said their concerns centered on the need for a collective statement and the timing of it.

Young acknowledged it’s rare for the elected body to take positions on issues before county and state government. Resolutions are the nonbinding statements of a legislative body.

Other concerns listed in the resolution include having to redraw county council districts in 2012 after this year’s contentious redistricting process and circumventing the charter amendment process. It also questions whether the cost savings identified by proposal supporters can be realized.

Leave a comment Comments → 1
  1. dbreneman says:

    Isn’t it the case that the Peninsula is the largest high population unincorporated (with the exception of the town of Gig Harbor) area in Pierce County? Peninsula residents rely on the county for all of their local government services. Peninsula residents need representation on the County Council or we will have no representation at all. We certainly can’t rely on the town of Gig Harbor to represent the interests of the unincorporated communities around it.

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