Letters to the Editor

Vote no to changing form of government | Federal Way letters

Citizens of Federal Way are once again being asked to vote on changing the form of government in Federal Way to a strong mayor form as defined by Washington state statute.

Voters overwhelming rejected this change in February 2008 by a margin of about 55 percent to 45 percent in a costly special election that topped $100,000. The reasons voters found to reject this change in 2008 are every bit as valid today as they were then. Federal Way Works is a committee of concerned citizens who oppose this change. We ask you to join us and once again reject this bad idea that moves the city backward, not forward.

These are some of the reasons we believe the measure should be defeated:

1. Vote no to changing our form of city government: Washington state law (RCW 35A.12.100) states the strong mayor will be the chief executive and administrative officer for the city, yet no qualifications, training or experience are required.

2. Vote no to increased costs: The City of Federal Way’s operating budget is $41 million, with 338 employees in eight departments operating under complex union contracts. This doesn’t include an estimated cost increase of approximately $250,000 for a full-time mayor and staff, plus fringe benefits and operating expenses. The increase in budget could be much more since most elected mayors of comparable cities hire a city administrator, who also requires staff plus fringe benefits and operating expenses.

3. Vote no to special interests: A separately elected strong mayor would be much more susceptible to the influence of special interests who financially contribute to their mayoral campaign. Do we really want more special interest money influencing our local decisions?

4. Vote no — let’s retain accountability: Removing an ineffective elected mayor would require a costly and drawn out recall election. Hired professional city managers can be removed immediately by majority council vote. That’s accountability!

5. Vote no — let’s retain true representative democracy: Currently, seven independently elected council members representing a broad cross section of the community work collaboratively to set policy direction and enact ordinances for the city. Would it be representative democracy for a strong mayor to veto the work of the seven? If council overrides the veto, a strong mayor in charge of day-to-day city operations as the city administrator could seriously impede the proper implementation of a policy or ordinance. Creating an all-powerful strong mayor thwarts the principle of, by and for the people.

Please join us and vote no to this change in the form of our city government.

Jerry Vaughn, Mary Ehlis and Bob Kellogg of Federal Way Works

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