Clallam County charter panel likely shunning past moves

By Jim Casey, Peninsula Daily News

August 3, 2007

PORT ANGELES, WA - Two "golden oldies" among Clallam County Charter revisions probably won't get onto the play list that will be the Nov. 6 election ballot.

The Charter Review Commission voted Monday not to ask voters to consider electing county commissioners by districts instead of the present practice of choosing them at large.

The proposal has been a perennial favorite, especially among conservative charter reviewers.

Another revision, championed by anti-tax advocate David Cummins, also died as charter commissioners prepared their next-to-last list of suggestions.

It would have required a referendum on any proposed new tax.

A ghost of Cummins' cause - that citizens may hold a referendum on any provision not prohibited by state law - may survive as an editing exercise, not a full alteration.

And the notion of limiting county elected officials to three consecutive four-year terms - another Cummins proposal - also was spiked Monday.


Cummins introduced his ideas largely without support of charter committees that considered the questions.

That led charter commissioner Ken Wiersema to ask if Cummins wasn't acting as an "ubercommissioner" by introducing his proposals.

Cummins didn't respond to Wiersema's question.

Charter commissioners will forward their final proposals next Monday to Mark Nichols, chief civil deputy prosecuting attorney, who will prepare the language in which the ideas will appear on the ballot.

So far, the questions include:

Should the charter limit campaign spending by candidates for elected offices?

Should it permit "instant runoff voting" or "ranked-choice voting," which would eliminate primary elections among more than two candidates?

Should eminent domain be limited only to public use of formerly private land and never be used for private economic development?

Should the director of the Department of Community Development - once appointed, now elected - be appointed again?

Should independent candidates in partisan races (county commissioner, prosecuting attorney) advance directly to the general election without participating in the primary?

Should a Charter Review Commission be elected every eight years starting in 2014, not the present five-year intervals?

xDeath investigator urged

Charter commissioners Monday also endorsed a half measure: Suggesting that county commissioners fund a death "investigator/administrator" to perform the duties of coroner within the prosecuting attorney's office.

Clallam County has no elected coroner, so the position goes by default to the prosecutor.

Prosecutor Deb Kelly has said she'll propose the new position in her budget request to county commissioners later this year.

Charter commissioner Terry Roth, who introduced the investigator/administrator idea, said it would bring needed expertise to the office without the necessity of separately electing a coroner.

He said Kelly already is $10,000 over her entire 2007 budget for coroner's duties, which often must be hired out to forensic pathologists in larger communities.

Commissioners next Monday also will decide whether to publish a "fact sheet" explaining their proposals and to distribute it in Clallam County newspapers.

The meeting will start at 6:30 p.m. in the commissioners' hearing room (160) of the Clallam County Courthouse, 223 E. Fourth St.

Although most courthouse entrances will be locked, people may enter the hearing room through doors just west of the main entrance on Fourth Street.

Reporter Jim Casey can be reached at 360-417-3538 or at
Last modified: August 02. 2007 9:00PM

Charter change list nearly finished

August 3rd, 2007 - 6:46am


(Port Angeles) -- The Clallam County Charter Review commission could put a final list of proposed charter changes together next week. The commission meets Monday and is poised to approve a final list of proposed changes that may eventually go before voters this fall. Among the ideas still being proposed include limiting campaign spending for county elected offices, establishing runoff voting for certain offices and switching the Community Development Director back to an appointed county official rather than elected. The commission is also proposing moving independent candidates straight to the general election rather than participating in primaries for partisan county races. Another issue that could go before voters would establish a coroner for the county. Currently, the prosecutor also acts as the coroner. This proposal would set up a separate coroner that would operate under the prosecutor's office. The list also includes an idea to add three more years between charter review commissions in the future. The Freeholders meet again Monday night to firm up the final list. That meeting is at 6:30 pm in the commissioner's meeting room at the courthouse.



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