Forum: City’s form of government

More letters from readers

  • Saturday, April 26, 2008 8:03am
  • Opinion

City needs a new system

I admit to have been somewhat ambivalent about whether or not a strong elected mayor would be better for us in Federal Way than the current system of city manager-city council.

But the recent pro and con statements in The Mirror have piqued my interest. Which system really would be best? I am familiar with both Barbara Reid and Dave McKenzie.

When I saw the people who make up the Federal Way Works cabal, I re-read Reid’s words with a more critical eye.

In the Dec. 19 issue, Reid states that the city manager is appointed by and is answerable to the city council. Unsaid, but implied, is that an elected mayor would not be answerable to the city council.

Therefore, their overall control of city government is being threatened. And this is bad?

A strong mayor will be elected by all of us; answerable to all of us. Currently, the individual council members are only answerable to those who live in the district that they represent. Divide and conquer. That’s how they circumvented the people’s vote against Celebration Park. With an elected mayor, that council move could have been vetoed.

Then Reid finishes her diatribe with the greatest insult an electorate — that’s us folks — has ever received: That we, the hoi polloi, the great unwashed, the uneducated and unsophisticated citizens of Federal Way would fall for the snake oil spiel of any Joe Sixpack who would run for mayor.

She has also dashed the hopes and chances for mayoral election of any member of her own committee. Because none of them have the special education and experience that Reid says is so necessary.

Besides, she avers, there is no one in Federal Way who has any ethics or even believes in them.

Where do I sign up for the accountability committee?

Patrick J. Watson, Federal Way

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Vote no and save our city

I was raised in a family that encouraged and valued service to your community. We try to get involved in causes that will benefit the greater good.

My involvement with Federal Way Works was inspired by just that belief.

We are a large, and growing larger, group of deeply concerned and caring individuals who have come together to stop a very small seemingly angry bunch of folks from ruining our city.

While I have lived here for over 30 years, I was raised in the suburbs of Chicago. After moving to the city, I experienced the regime of Richard J. Daley. Cronyism, favoritism, nepotisms and who knows what else.

Can’t happen here you say? I say, watch out!

The “strong mayor” form of government gives not only ceremonial duties to that person, but the power to fire the city manager and all department heads. Possibly the chief of police? In essence, put in anybody they want, regardless of qualifications. That mayor also is in charge of the budget. Sure there will be a council, but they may not (or won’t) have equal, representative power as they do now.

You know by now that a “strong mayor” needs no qualifications. Scary isn’t it? I sure think so.

You can stop this. Vote no for an elected mayor on Feb. 19.

Our city isn’t broken. Sure, it can’t make all the people happy all the time. A city is made up of dedicated, hard working, highly skilled, overworked, under-appreciated people. People make mistakes, things happen. We need to support those people, not call them names and criticize them when things don’t go our way. Get involved in a positive manner.

Our city isn’t broken, let’s not break it now. Please vote no to a change in city government.

With your help, we can save our city.

Peg Altman, Federal Way

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Do your homework on mayor issue

I urge Federal Way residents to vote no on the elected mayor ballot Feb. 19.

Since the city incorporated, I have served on commissions (human services, arts) and many city committees. Currently I am a member of one committee and two subcommittees.

Because I have closely followed activities of the current council-manager form of government, I can testify how well it works. The elected seven-member council, each with an equal vote, gives all issues a variety of opinions. No one member has additional power.

With an elected mayor, he or she can have a personal agenda with no relationship to council decisions. The position would be open to political ambition, increased costs and duplicity.

Ask yourself: Why have 17 out of 18 cities that incorporated over the past 41 years in Washington chosen the council-manager form of government? Only tiny Liberty Lake with a population of 6,580 has a council-mayor.

Carefully research those supporting and against this issue.

An elected mayor is the winner of a popularity contest who may not have the administrative skills for the job. There are no requirements.

An additional full-time administrator would still be needed to manage the city’s day-to-day operations. That adds enormous cost, considering additional staff and benefits.

Our city manager now is an extremely qualified person, chosen after a lengthy national search. It would be a huge mistake to lose him, just as Federal Way is in the midst of major negotiations in many facets of economic development.

So please do your homework on this very important issue. Once you understand the whole issue and the reasoning, I am confident you will vote no.

Joann Piquette, Federal Way


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