Tag Archives: mayor vs. manager

Scales suspends campaign for mayor

Former city councilman Bob Scales has suspended his mayoral campaign to focus his attention on the debate over whether Bainbridge should change its form of government.

Scales said he has been kept out of public discussions about next month’s change-of-government election because he is a candidate for mayor and supports retaining the mayor-led form of government.

“The council-manager campaign has refused to engage anyone with another point-of-view,” Scales said. “I’ve said ‘let’s not present one side of the story. Let’s mix it up.’”

If supporters of a manager-led government won’t include him as a candidate, maybe they’ll include him if he suspends his campaign, Scales said.

Linda Owens, manager of the Vote Council-Manager campaign, disputes Scales’ claim that her group is unwilling to debate him.

“If someone wants to organize a public event (through) a civic organization, we’d be there,” she said.

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Speaker says manager-led government is good, but electing good people is better

Whether Bainbridge’s government sticks with its traditional political model or switches to one rooted in the business world, City Hall will remain only as good as the people chosen to run it.

That was the message municipal government expert Carl Neu drove home during a Tuesday night forum exploring the differences between mayor- and manager-led cities. Islanders will vote May 19 on whether to do away with the city’s elected mayor position in favor of a manager hired by the City Council.

“As you get into this question, try to separate yourselves from personalities and decide what makes sense structurally,” the Colorado-based consultant said to the over 100 people gathered in Bainbridge High School’s commons. “There’s never been a form of government that can overcome the foibles of humanity.”

While a manager-led government is no “silver bullet,” Neu characterized it as generally more cost-effective, efficient and transparent than the mayor form.

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May 19: the date BI will vote on changing its government

Bainbridge Island has the green light to hold a special election on May 19 on the question of whether the city should change its government structure.

Gov. Chris Gregoire signed a bill Wednesday that alters state law to allow ballots on change-of-government measures to go before voters in any month. Previously, they were only allowed during November general elections.

In Bainbridge’s case, the bill allows voters to decide whether the city should do away with its elected mayor position in favor of a city manager hired by the City Council.

The bill, granted emergency status last month, was quickly passed by the state House and spent just more than a week in the Senate. Rep. Christine Rolfes and Sen. Phil Rockefeller, both Bainbridge Democrats, sponsored the bill in their respective houses.

Bainbridge City Councilwoman Debbie Vancil said Wednesday the bill would be important to all municipalities to help them govern their own affairs. She said the Legislature and the governor recognized Bainbridge Island’s immediate need for the bill and gave it an emergency status, which means it took effect the moment the governor signed it.

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BI’s change-in-government bill passes House of Representatives

Rep. Rolfes
Rep. Rolfes

A bill allowing Bainbridge Islanders to vote early on changing their form of government passed the state House by a wide margin on Wednesday.

Sponsored by Rep. Christine Rolfes (D-Bainbridge Island), House Bill 1066 passed 95 to two. The bill now moves to the Senate, where it is scheduled for a committee hearing on Monday.

If expedited through the Senate, the bill could allow a public vote in May on whether to replace the city’s elected mayor position with a hired city manager.

“It was remarkable,” Rolfes said of the bill’s easy passage. “It passed by such a large margin most likely because it’s a very straightforward bill.  Legislators, all of whom have run for office, many of whom come from local government, could see the difficulty of the situation and were willing to fix it.”

Sen. Phil Rockefeller (D-Bainbridge Island) persuaded his colleagues on Thursday to allow the bill an early hearing on the Senate Government Operations and Elections Committee.

“This will expedite action on the special election bill, and I hope we can get it voted out of that committee quickly,” he said.

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