Mayor opposes changing Federal Way's form of government | Guest column
August 24, 2009 · Updated 7:25 PM
By JACK DOVEY, Mayor of Federal Way
I would like to start off my thoughts with the statement that I, Jack Dovey, as a citizen of Federal Way, signed the petition to vote on a strong mayor form of government.
I strongly believe the citizens of Federal Way deserve the right to decide on city changing initiatives.
I am also flattered that both Clara McArthur and Bob Roegner have felt it is important to ask what my opinion on this initiative really is. I believe I have a fairly good insight regarding this issue, as I have served as the mayor of Federal Way for the past 17 months.
This initiative comes before our citizens at a very crucial time in our city's history. As a city we are facing many issues. Our sales tax collections are off at record amounts, our citizens are facing tremendous financial uncertainties, our social service agencies are being strained to meet the needs of our citizens, and many vocal citizen groups are asking the city to do more than we can.
What I find interesting and perplexing is how off-base ACT (Accountability Comes to Town) is. The argument that the writers for ACT have put forth have nothing to do with my thoughts about an elected mayor. I believe they are not acting in the best interest of the City of Federal Way and are doing all they can to do what is best for their self interests.
I do not agree with the argument put forth by ACT that our current system of government does not allow for the kind of direct access and accountability that our citizens deserve. As mayor, I have spent countless hours with multiple city staff members present discussing issues and problems the founding members of ACT have brought forth to the city. The money and staff time spent would have been no different if Federal Way had an elected mayor. I have found our system both open and accommodating to all citizens.
I believe the members of ACT are acting on old news. I question what their real motive is. I do not agree with their argument or campaign.
I have come to the conclusion that the City of Federal Way does not need to change its form of government. I do not support the elected strong mayor form of government.
I have come to this conclusion for the following reasons:
1. It is not the time to increase the city's overhead. All major cities that have a strong elected mayor also have a strong appointed chief operating officer. I do not believe it is the time to burden our citizens with more employee overhead. This is not the time to increase costs, as we are forced to cut costs to stay within our budget.
2. The council has the ability to change directions when management is determined to be out of sync with the citizens' and the council's desires. This is not possible with a strong elected mayor.
3. The Federal Way City Council is made of very unique and diverse personalities. This is an advantage to our citizens because good decisions are made when so many options are considered and augured for.
Lastly, I believe our citizens are well represented. Our city is fortunate to have a diverse group of citizens who have stepped forward and have been elected as city council members. Our city is well served by individuals with vastly different opinions and beliefs. If the citizens of Federal Way desire a change, it should not be at the management level, but with the council itself. ACT should be concentrating on electing different people or imposing term limits; it is wrong to want to change the form of government.
In summary, even though I signed the petition to put the election on the ballot to change our form of government, I have concluded that changing our form of government is a very bad idea.