Opinion

Your Turn: Ready for round two of strong mayor fight

By JOHN WILDE, Federal Way resident

It would appear that each side of the mayoral issue has gone back into their corners and are ready for round two.

In one corner, we have Federal Way Works with their statement in the Feb. 27 edition of the Mirror, letting residents know they have their dukes up and are ready to go again. On the other side, Accountability Comes to Town (ACT), with its clear message that this is hardly over. And on the sidelines we have two other organizations — the Federal Way Chamber of Commerce and The Mirror — who influenced (to put it mildly) voters to vote no in the last initiative. And if that wasn’t enough, a “hybrid” system has been floated.

Though I was not a member of ACT, I was convinced to help the initiative since I was, and still am, convinced that the strong mayor is the way to go. Can I be swayed? Yes. However, it will take much doing and better information from Federal Way Works, the Chamber and The Mirror to prove the strong mayor system wrong. It would be my hope at this point that each side would once again hold a “town hall” meeting representing their views; and any debate should be sponsored by a person or organization that has nothing to gain. I believe there were mistakes made in the last go-round, and the voters suffered.

I must also state for the record that I don’t think any council person wakes up each day and says to himself or herself, “How can I hurt the city today?” I have had the privilege of resolving city issues, collaborating with the city for those in need, and currently am involved in bringing up our animal control contract with King County to improve our city’s animal control issues. I can state first-hand that they have a genuine passion for our city. I called every city council person who was in support of

keeping the same form of government and congratulated them on the successful campaign. All except one called me back and wanted to hear the concerns on the issues. It speaks volumes that each council person (outside of the one) wanted to hear citizens and their issues.

Political columnist Bob Roegner stated that his interpretation was citizens must not be too upset with the issue or more voter turnout would have happened. I would argue a different point of view. I had several people tell me on election day they thought once they voted in the caucuses that they thought they were done. Also voters were caught up with presidential primaries. On round two, voters will be more informed and not caught up with primaries and be derailed.

Federal Way Works stated that it’s only a few people that want change, yet 44.87 percent of voter turnout and the petition speaks for themselves; 44.87 percent of the citizens who did turn out do want change.

In round two, hopefully from all sides of the ring, we will hear all points of view and end this debate on what is best for our great and growing city. As our city grows, maybe our current form of government needs to as well.

Roegner stated that maybe ACT wanted to get one person in line for mayorship. That does not make sense, as there would be no guarantee that the one person they are suggesting would be elected. One has to campaign for the position, and I am sure that the one suggested would run for the position against other worthy candidates, thus making that issue pointless. At the same time, what do the current council members gain by keeping the current form of government? It would appear its current power. So do some council members have more right to state one’s point of view than the other? I think not. Let us just not go there. It will further muddy the issue and once again keep voters away from the issue of what is best.

My last point is the cost issue Roegner stated. The cost of voter representation is priceless and just because a group of voters wants the current form of government does not mean that the other view was not worth putting on the ballot unless the other opposing view does not believe in the process of democracy.

I even heard one former city council person refer to this process as a civil war. Wow, I just had no idea that is what democracy is. I always thought democracy was one view and another presenting issues for the citizens involved and then voting, thus creating a majority. If that does not work, the minority does its best to bring the voters to its side and try again. If no success, maybe take a look at other point of view and consider defeat or try again with dignity and grace. Some issues have taken two or three times before the voters had an understanding and supported an issue.

I would like to thank all those who did vote yes for electing our mayor for whatever reason, as we have sent a message to the city council that cannot be ignored. That message: People want representation and when they feel unheard, change is needed. If this is truly round two, let us not muddy the waters, but stick to the issues.

Federal Way resident John Wilde can be reached at johnsview@excite.com.

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