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Chamber opposes ‘mayor-council’ proposal

From staff reports

The Federal Way Chamber of Commerce made public its recommendation to vote no on the proposed change to Federal Way’s form of government.

A six-person subcommittee comprised of Chamber members and board directors reached the conclusion after examining both sides of the controversial issue, said Tom Pierson, Chamber CEO.

“The relationship that we’ve had with the city council has created a more friendly business environment and helped work toward common goals we have at the Chamber,” Pierson said. “With a change in this form of government, it’s a risk as to whether that would be beneficial to enhancing the business community as well as the whole community.”

Voters will decide Feb. 19 whether to change Federal Way’s form of government from the current council-manager system to a mayor-council form involving an elected mayor.

Proponents say an elected mayor will lead to increased accountability for citizens as well as a focal point for city government. Opponents say changing Federal Way’s council-city manager system could be a costly mistake, citing that a hired professional city manager has proven to work best.

The Chamber’s opposition to the proposal does not mean it accepts the current status quo. Some subcommittee members said a change is necessary, just not the proposal that’s up for a vote Feb. 19.

“There needs to be a debate about our form of government. We need to explore others,” said Pierson, using Tacoma’s hybrid council-manager system as an example. The Tacoma City Council consists of an elected mayor and eight elected council members. The council also appoints a city manager who handles daily operations and helps carry out policies. This setup, said members of the Federal Way Chamber subcommittee, allows voters to elect a mayor while keeping a form of government that works.

“Tacoma has had great outcomes with a current government similar to ours,” Pierson said.

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