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Council sets timeline for city's first mayoral election

From left: City council members Linda Kochmar, Jim Ferrell, mayor Jack Dovey, deputy mayor Eric Faison, Dini Duclos, Mike Park, Jeanne Burbidge and city manager Brian Wilson pose for a photo on Dec. 15 at City Hall. Dovey
From left: City council members Linda Kochmar, Jim Ferrell, mayor Jack Dovey, deputy mayor Eric Faison, Dini Duclos, Mike Park, Jeanne Burbidge and city manager Brian Wilson pose for a photo on Dec. 15 at City Hall. Dovey's two-year term as mayor expires Dec. 31. Faison's four-year term as a council member expires the same day. Dovey will revert back to a council member. Faison will end his nine-year run as a council member.
— image credit: Jacinda Howard/The Mirror

A timeline for the November 2010 mayoral election was adopted Tuesday by the Federal Way City Council.

The council will actively start making the transition from a city council/city manager form of government to a city council/elected mayor arrangement starting Jan. 5. The process will establish the duties of the city council, elected mayor and possibly a chief administrative officer. It will set a salary for the future mayor and could put in place a mechanism to control campaign contributions, among other things.

The council will hold special meetings to conduct its business. The meetings will precede regularly scheduled city council meetings and will be open to the public. They will take place nearly every council meeting from January to May. City council member Jim Ferrell, who plans to run for mayor, announced he will recuse himself from all business relating to the elected mayor issue from here on out.

"I'm going to be recusing myself on every item that has to do with the change of government because of my stated position regarding the position," Ferrell said.

The timeline

• Jan. 5: Establish the duties of the council, elected mayor and possibly chief administrative officer.

• Jan. 19: Discuss the process for setting the elected mayor's salary. The council may set the salary or choose to let the Independent Salary Commission establish a salary. The commission currently meets every two years to set the salaries of the mayor and council members. It will meet sometime in January and again later to set the elected mayor's salary if the council directs it to do so.

• Feb. 2: Address limitations on campaign contributions. This could mean capping the contributions candidates are allowed to accept, requiring the candidates to report their contributions to a body established by the council, or a combination of the above, city attorney Pat Richardson said.

Per state law, local officials and candidates in jurisdictions with 1,000-plus registered voters must file a report with the Washington State Public Disclosure Commission (PDC) listing their campaign contributions. City council member Jeanne Burbidge said it is important for the public to know where contributions are coming from and how much those contributions are. Burbidge said she'd like to see the city council set a policy in which a cap is placed on the amount of contributions a candidate in any future electoral race can accept by one person or entity. Though the PDC tracks contributions, not many folks are aware of the agency, she said.

"In the near and distant future, I believe the citizens need to have open government," Burbidge said. "They need to have transparency in government."

• Feb. 16: If the city council chooses to set the mayor's salary, it will meet on this day to do so. If the council chooses to have the Independent Salary Commission set the salary, that will likely be done in April.

• March 2: Define roles and relationships between the city council and elected mayor. The conversation will cover rules and procedures; the code of ethics; entities created via interlocal agreements, such as the SCORE jail and Valley Communications; council committee appointments, settlements of legal claims, purchasing policies and staff relations.

• March 16: No scheduled meeting.

• April 6: Identify city departments. Currently, there are eight departments: City manager, law, community development, management services, municipal court, public works, public safety and parks, recreation and cultural services.

• April 20: Decide which staff positions will become appointed roles. Legal representation and the positions of city clerk and police chief must legally be appointed, city attorney Pat Richardson said. "The council has no authority to make any appointments of the personnel of the city," Richardson said at a Nov. 17 special meeting regarding the elected mayor issue.

• May 4: First reading of an ordinance distinguishing city departments and appointed positions.

• May 18: Second reading of this same ordinance.

• The timeline is designed so that anyone interested in running for mayor will know the expected duties and salary. The filing date for the mayor position is June 7-11. The King County filing fee will be 1 percent of the mayor's salary. If more than two candidates file for mayor, a primary election will be held Aug. 17. The general election will take place Nov. 2.

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