Equal Representation at City Council by Peter Ripley

I am pleased to take this time to bring up two topics. These issues were brought to me when I was campaigning for city council.  I continue to hear these issues come up–long after the election.

Some voters are expressing frustrations at not being fully represented at city council. They feel disenfranchised when it comes to representation at city council. They express frustrations as their streets and alleyways are not being tended to as well as in other parts of town.

They wonder why folks on the west side of town are being ignored by the city completely!   For instance; on the west side of town, at the end of 8th Street West, there is an elementary school.  Near this school are several four-way intersections having no stop sign in either direction.  If a child gets hurt in the cross walk surely the city will be partially liable.  Folks living in other parts of town wouldn’t put up with this.

To many, it seems, only the east side of town is getting attention.  To others it is the central part of town which seems to be getting the most focused attention. No one claims overly abundant attention to the west side.

An idea that kept popping up in diverse places is a call for voting by district.  This to ensure all taxpayer concerns are being delivered to city hall.

 
Some people came up to me and suggested that the mayor should be selected by a popular vote of the people, instead of the council electing the mayor among themselves.
Most cities I know of the voters elect the mayor directly instead of the council.

No one is suggesting we change the form of government, just how the mayor and council is elected.

Under the RCW 35A: City Manager form of government; it includes a provision allowing the electorate vote directly for a mayor. This should be the only “at-large” spot on the ballot.  

The council would be elected by district.  That way your city council member is answerable to his nearest neighbors.  In this way the folks out east could not elect the council person representing the west side of town.

As for districting, it has some advantages.  A person would only run for his/her own residential district; the area in which they live.  This way they would make sure the concerns in their own district are being heard downtown.

There are disadvantages too. When voting for district representation on city council it would limit your vote to just your district; the district in which you live instead of city-wide elections as it is today.

The mayor’s race would be the only city-wide election on the ballot.

While Port Angeles is a small town it is easy to imagine the concerns on the west side may not be shared by those elsewhere in town.

Right now its a seven member council. We would have seven districts and one could only run for the district in which he/she lives. These are questions we need to ask, and have answers to, before any drastic changes are considered.  However, some changes are long overdue.

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