The new Puyallup City Council marked its first meeting of 2012 by revisiting an issue the old council rejected – giving citizens the power to enact new laws and repeal ones they don’t like.
No final action was taken on the matter at Tuesday’s session. But the seven-member council, which has four new faces this year, asked city staff to prepare information on the process of providing initiative and referendum power.
The powers aren’t automatic in all cities under state law, and the council in 2010 turned down a proposal that would have set the stage for having them in Puyallup.
Councilman John Hopkins, who asked to revisit the idea, said providing the powers would demonstrate that the new council is listening to residents.
“From the point of view of regaining the citizen’s trust – from a symbolic point of view – it’s huge,” he said before the meeting.
The council Tuesday also selected a new mayor.
Councilman Rick Hansen will hold the largely ceremonial post for two years. In Puyallup, the mayor presides over council meetings and attends community events, but the city manager runs daily operations.
Under council rules, Councilman John Knutsen, who ran unchallenged in November for his second term, was next in line for the position because he’s served the most continuous years.
But he declined, saying Hansen should have the job.
Hansen, 64, a downtown property owner who has four adult children with his wife, Karen, was appointed to the council in 2008.
He also logged eight years on the council in the 1980s. He’s one of two council members elected to represent the city’s central district.
Hansen said he expects the new council to have “great debates,” but also be cordial and able to work together. Hansen, Knutsen and Councilman Kent Boyle are the only returning council members.
Hopkins, who was elected in November, took his seat last month. Three other new members – Steve Vermillion, John Palmer and Tom Swanson – joined him on the dais Tuesday night.
In the fall of 2010, Hansen and Knutsen supported the initiative and referendum proposal. Boyle voted with the majority to reject it.
He said Tuesday that he’s not sure it’s something the council should decide. “I wish we could take it before the public and have that be the deciding factor,” he said after the meeting.
He added that he hasn’t yet made up his mind about the issue.
The council is expected to talk about initiative and referendum again next month.