Deadline looms over charter review - Commission will rule on ballot next Monday
By Evan McLean staff writer
Sequim Gazette Wednesday,
August 1, 2007
Clallam County, WA - The Clallam County Charter Review Commission will forward possible changes to the county’s guiding document to the auditor next week for placement on November’s ballot.
The commission has not sent the possible changes to the auditor yet, as they agreed to wait until their August 6 meeting to take formal action.
Commissioners have given several possible charter revisions to chief civil deputy Mark Nichols, legal counsel to the commission for review, like the ability to have instant runoff voting, candidate disclosure requirements, eminent domain restrictions and whether the director of the Department of Community Development should remain an elected position.
The 15-member commission met regularly throughout 2007 gathering public comment and debating whether or not suggested changes to the county’s charter would reach the ballot. The county charter is the government’s presiding document, like America’s Constitution. Every five years a group of elected citizens meets to study the charter and recommend changes for voter approval.
The commission intended to create a voter’s pamphlet that would educate people on the proposed charter revisions. Nichols, however, said state law prohibits the commission from creating anything with bias. So now they are likely to create a fact sheet that will describe the proposed changes without offering pros or cons.
“The (Public Disclosure Commission) has offered to review any fact sheet that we create because they are so interested in our charter review process,” Nichols said.
Not all counties govern under a charter; instead they take their direction directly from state law. Charter government allows citizens to make changes to the way they are governed while staying within the confines of state and federal laws.
The commission has around $8,500 that commissioners were saving for the creation and circulation of a fact sheet, but commissioners may join committees that will advise the auditor, Patty Rosand, on wording for the voter’s pamphlet. Nichols said Rosand is willing to put in a “pros and cons” section for each suggested charter revision. The county commissioners likely will create committees to formulate the wording for the pamphlet.
If the commission does not spend the money, it returns to the general fund.