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FW ballot proposition would restrict citizen petitions to general elections
Mirror staff reports:
Federal Way voters will have the opportunity to vote on just one ballot proposition during the Nov. 5 general election.
Proposition No. 1 would restrict the submission of all citizen initiative petitions to the general elections because the voter participation is historically higher at general elections, and to avoid the added expense of a special election.
As it currently stands, if a citizen-backed initiative gains enough signatures and is certified by the county, the city must either hold a special election or wait until a general election if the initiative is certified within 120 days of a general election.
According to the "statement in favor" of Proposition 1 in the King County Voters Pamphlet, during the November 2011 general election, between 41- and 45-percent voted in the general election, while only 23- to 26-percent voted during the primary. The pro statement was submitted by Linda Purlee and Bruce Martinez.
"The timing of national and local general elections generates more voter interest and greater turnout," the pamphlet says. "Important initiatives brought to the public should be held when the greatest number of voters participate. Otherwise fewer voters make key decisions for the greater population."
There was no "statement of opposition" submitted to King County.
The Federal Way City Council, in a 5-2 vote during its June 4 meeting, decided to send the ballot proposition to King County Elections. The two dissenting votes came from Councilmembers Kelly Maloney and Diana Noble-Gulliford.
"I do not like the concept of restricting the initiative process and the voters," Noble-Gulliford said at the time. "I understand the budget issues and also the general election turnout, but in my mind, the voters' rights come first as far as the initiative process goes."
Special elections tend to cost more because fewer jurisdictions place items on the ballot. A ballot measure can often cost $100,000 or more. For example, the city paid $140,000 to place the elected-mayor issue on a February 2008 special election ballot following a citizen-backed initiative (the public voted to keep the council-manager form of government). That same year, Federal Way's cost to participate in the regularly scheduled general election was $90,000.
Local special elections involve more than just Federal Way city government. In 2012, South King Fire and Rescue paid nearly $150,000 for a special election ballot on a service levy. In 2012, Federal Way Public Schools paid nearly $200,000 for a special election on two levy proposals.
To learn more about the ballot items and candidates in the general election, visit kingcounty.gov/elections.