Revelations about Prop. 1 | Federal Way letters
October 23, 2009 · Updated 10:40 AM
I will be voting no for Proposition 1, and I strongly encourage you to do the same.
Last year I voted against the strong mayor option. I went into this year's campaign season with an open mind on the subject. I wanted to see what new information, or new revelations the "pro" side (Accountability Comes to Town) would bring to the discussion before I formed an opinion. What I found were the same hollow and baseless arguments from last year.
The commentary and letters in The Mirror over the past several weeks reveal some interesting and, at times, humorous observations on the subject.
First, we have the subject of "popularity and gene pool:" In the Oct. 10 edition, the former (strong) mayor of Bremerton, Cary Bozeman, states that "cities are usually better run under the council-manager form of government." And that voting for an elected mayor is a "crapshoot."
Quite frankly, I do not want a crapshoot in my local government. We have only to look north to Seattle to see a career politician who couldn't keep ice off of the winter streets, being succeeded by two "lesser than nominal" replacement candidates. I would say Seattle is facing the proverbial "crapshoot" during this election season.
Second, we have the "strange bedfellows" category: In the Oct. 17 edition, columnist Walter Backstrom derides the city for building Celebration Park. Yet in the very same edition, former council member Ron Gintz is also promoting a strong mayor. This I found rather ironic, as for those of you who remember, it was Ron Gintz, as a city council member, who helped to ramrod the Celebration Park and the Dumas Bay Centre purchase through the city government, despite the rebuffs from numerous citizens. In fact, several of the more vocal ACT representatives have derided Celebration Park. Why did they have Mr. Gintz speak for them?
Third we have the "huh?, did he really say that??" category: In Ron Gintz's Oct. 17 letter, he states that council members "buckled and switched their votes when faced with vocal minority special interests opposing a downtown library, and the 312th Street/I-5 exit proposals." Is Mr. Gintz inferring that a "strong mayor" such as Jim Ferrell would have ignored the Steel Lake locals and pressed on with the 312th exit study?
Somehow, I don't think "strong mayor" Jim Ferrell would have proceeded any different than "city council member" Jim Ferrell on the subject of the 312th exit.
For someone like me, who really wanted to see the 312th exit study continue — I don't believe a strong mayor would have sided with me. I personally, would have received no better representation from a strong mayor than what I received from the "swayed" city council. I lose either way.
Fourth, we have the "hedging his bets" category. In the Oct. 21 letter by ACT proponent David McKenzie, he warns us to watch out, because should Proposition 1 go through, there are certain upstanding city contributors who may choose to run for mayor. Wow! Is this how an "open" and "fair" electorate should operate? By not voting for someone regardless as to if they are the best person for the job? How does that promote community, by sticking with the "us and them" mentality?
The final straw for me, in deciding to vote no of Proposition 1, is the ACT home mailer this week. ACT claimed that crime at the transit center would somehow recede with a strong mayor. This was really insulting. Unless a strong mayor is going to somehow restrict gang bangers from getting on the bus outside of city limits, and preventing them from riding it into Federal Way, there is not going to be a reduction in crime merely because of the form of government. Will a "strong mayor" commit to putting four uniformed policemen on duty at the transit center full time? Because that is probably what it will take.
I will give ACT credit on one point. After taking some pointers from the Mike Hellickson campaign playbook, they created easy to read campaign signs — that clearly state their position. The casual "drive-by voter" can quickly recognize the "Yes Mayor" slogan. They get an "A+" on signage. Whereas the opposition's sign has a big "NO," but the "drive-by voter" has to really squint to see the rest of the text that describes the issue. Their signs get a "D." And if we learned anything from the Hellickson campaign, you do not need substance behind your message, nor a solid background on the issues. All you need are really big and very readable signs to sway the populist vote.
Please join me in voting no on Proposition 1. Our current council-manager form of government works. Do not let the pro-mayor crowd lead you to believe the grass is greener with a professional politico running our city.
Larry Paterson, Federal Way