November 5, 1995

Charter Changes Who’s In Charge

 

Question: Will the executive be elected by voters or appointed by the council?

Answer: The executive would be elected by voters countywide and would have powers similar to that of a strong mayor or state governor.

He or she would not vote with the 13-member council, but could veto council decisions. Vetos could be overridden with a vote of nine members.

The executive would appoint department heads, subject to council approval.

Q: Why do proponents feel a paid city manager isn’t as good as an elected executive?

A: Few issues caused as much debate among the 25 freeholders as whether to propose a council-manager form of government (such a Spokane’s city government) or an executive-council form.

In the end, a majority of freeholders decided Spokane needs a single leader who would set the political agenda and is directly accountable to voters.

Dissenters feel the community risks electing an unqualified executive.

The Spokane Area Chamber of Commerce urged freeholders to offer more money, saying $85,000 (the salary mandated in the charter) isn’t enough to attract qualified candidates for a job similar to running a major corporation.

Q: Why 13 council districts?

A: This was another issue that sparked heated debate among freeholders.

Some preferred a council with seven, nine or 11 members. They thought the larger council would have a tough time making decisions.

Each of the 13 districts would have about 30,000 residents. Freeholders hope representatives would be more accessible to voters than if they were elected to larger districts. Also, it would be more difficult for a council member with an extreme opinion to sway the majority.

Finally, freeholders contend smaller districts mean that campaigns would cost less and more people may be encouraged to run for office.

The council would replace the three county commissioners and seven City Council members.

Q: I looked at the map of the districts and couldn’t figure out which one I was in. How can I find that out?

A: The proposed charter includes lists of districts and the precincts they include. It is available in libraries or on the Internet. Computer users should point their browsers to City Hall Link at http://www.eznet .com/ cityhall/cityhall.html.

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