Nonpartisan initiative moving ahead

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Joe Fain

Joe Fain, chair of Citizens for Independent Government, recently submitted more than 80,000 signatures to the King County Clerk to place Initiative 26 before voters.

Initiative 26 will make the offices of King County Executive, Assessor and Council nonpartisan, effective in 2009.

The initiative needs only 52,817 valid signatures to qualify. The last King County Initiative that qualified for the ballot submitted fewer than 75,000 signatures.

“Despite having to collect signatures in the snow, rain, and freezing temperatures, our success is a true indication of this reform measure’s popularity among voters,” said Fain, who has served both Democratic and Republican members of the King County Council, as well as the nonpartisan King County District Court.

Fain noted: “Elections should be about choice, local government should be about service.”

Nonpartisan elections will bring greater competition to county elections while placing the focus on competency and qualifications, instead of party politics, Fain explained.

“County government must respond to the day-to-day needs of our communities, from water treatment and law enforcement, to building permits and buses,” Fain said. “Influence on these fundamental services should come from the people, not through a partisan process.”

Not surprisingly, many voters agree with Fain.

Initiative 26 has a broad base of support, particularly from city officials throughout the county.

“We are honored to have so many nonpartisan city councilmembers and mayors endorsing this effort, as well as prominent Republicans and Democrats like former Gov. Booth Gardner,” Fain said.

The process leading to Initiative 26 began in April 2007, when King County Councilmember Pete von Reichbauer introduced similar legislation before the council. The council did not grant a hearing to discuss the proposed legislation.

Once the signatures for Initiative 26 have been validated by the County Clerk and elections officials, the King County Council will have until July 5 to consider the proposal.

If the council takes no action, it will appear on the August 2008 primary ballot.

Once approved by the voters in August, Initiative 26 will become a proposed King County Charter Amendment and appear before the voters on the November 2008 general election ballot.

If the King County Council chooses to adopt the initiative before July 5, the Charter Amendment directly will move to the November 2008 ballot, saving King County taxpayers the expense of a redundant election.

The council also might propose an alternative version, in which case both the alternative and Initiative 26 will appear before the voters on the August 2008 primary ballot.

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