Opinion

Prop. 1: You decide | Mirror editorial

Proposition 1 would change Federal Way’s form of government to one that transfers the administrative responsibilities of a city manager to an elected mayor.

Currently, the city operates under a system where the city council hires a city manager to perform the daily administrative functions. The city council is the overriding governing body, and the city manager reports to them. The city council appoints a mayor from within its ranks to act as the face of the city, but the mayor does not have the executive authority to make lone decisions.

With an elected mayor, this would change. While the city council would remain, the power of the administration would shift to the elected mayor. The elected mayor may hire a city manager, but it would not be required by city or state law.

This is one of the most hotly contested issues to come out of Federal Way since its inception as a city. When this issue appeared on the 2008 ballot, The Mirror endorsed the current council-manager form of government because there wasn’t a compelling reason to change.

The issue has become much more politicized and emotional this time around. The Mirror felt it would be more worthwhile to give you, as the residents, all of the points so that you can decide what is best for this city. Therefore, The Mirror will not make an endorsement.

Strong mayor form of government, proposed by Accountability Comes to Town (ACT)

• Mayor would have executive authority over all of the city staff and budget.

• Mayor would be elected by the citizens.

• Mayor could only be removed from office by a recall election due to malfeasance, misfeasance or nonfeasance.

• Mayor would be a four-year term at which time he/she may run again. Currently there are no term limits on this position.

• Would have veto power over a majority vote by the city council. However, the council does have override power.

• Can propose and implement policies.

• A few prominent people working to pass the initiative have personal agendas tied to the election’s outcome. Current city council member Jim Ferrell is leading this initiative and has publicly stated that if it passes, he will be a candidate for the mayor position that this initiative will create.

City council/city manager form of government, defended by Federal Way Works

• The current form of government requires a city manager to run the day-to-day operations and the staff of the city. The city manager reports to the city council. City manager is hired by the city council.

• City council can remove the city manager if needed. The city council has had a difficult time keeping the city manager position filled. Neal Beets’ contract was not renewed on May 5, 2009, and it cost the city $114,021 in a severance package. Currently this position is filled by former police chief Brian Wilson on an interim basis. He will remain in this position until another city manager is hired.

• City council does not have term limits. They are elected to four-year terms. City manager does not have term limits and is an employee of the city; this is not a political position.

• City manager has no veto power over the city council’s majority vote.

• City council can propose policies. City manager only has the power to recommend policies, but will implement them after the city council has approved them.

• The city council elects a member of its own to serve as the mayor for a term of two years. This position chairs council meetings, is a liaison to the city manager, speaks for the city and represents the city on local boards and regional commissions.

• The co-chairs of this campaign to keep the current form of government are Carol Clemens and Jerry Vaughn, but another spokesperson as a central figure is Jim Burbidge. He is the husband of current city council member Jeanne Burbidge.

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