Tag Archives: mayor

BI’s special election bill passes committee

Doubts about Bainbridge Island’s special elections bill were eased yesterday with its passage out of a House committee. Read about it in today’s story by Keith Vance, our man in Olympia.

The bill would free Bainbridge and other cities from hold special change-of-government elections only during November, when general election ballots go out.

While yesterday’s action was only the first step, some islanders – including Rep. Christine Rolfes, the bill’s prime sponsor – didn’t think such a relatively minor piece of legislation would have much of a chance during a year when the state’s economy is likely to dominate discussion. The provision listing the bill as an “emergency” was also seen by some as a bit presumptuous, especially in light of the state’s flooding highways, crumbling viaducts, faltering support for schools and plans to close parks.

Already exceeding expectations, the bill may yet put a special ballot in your mailbox in May, rather than November.

Rolfes backs bid allowing Bainbridge to change its government

UPDATED: An emergency bill that would grant Bainbridge Island an early vote on changing its form of government will have a hearing before members of the state Legislature on Thursday.

The House Committee on Local Government & Housing will hear from the bill’s prime sponsor, Rep. Christine Rolfes, and supporters of a public vote that may replace the city’s elected mayor with a hired city manager.

The bill would alter state law, allowing cities to schedule special elections to alter the structure of local governments. Current state rules require that change-of-government ballot measures go to voters only in November. The rule was enacted to save small cities from having to spend thousands of dollars on special petition-driven elections.

The Bainbridge City Council and petitioners who gathered signatures for the ballot measure support a vote on May 19, about six months earlier than the law allows.

Rolfes, a Bainbridge Democrat and former Bainbridge city councilwoman, said the rule change is good for Bainbridge and other Washington cities.

“I believe that the proposal itself is good public policy – it makes better sense for the people of a city to decide their form of government prior to council and mayoral elections,” she said on Monday. “And that makes sense statewide, not just on Bainbridge. I’ve talked with a number of legislators, and there is general agreement that it’s a good change to make.”

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City won’t hire a lobbyist. It’ll borrow one.

The city has opted not to hire a lobbyist to push for an early island-wide vote on changing Bainbridge’s form of government.

Instead, the city will leave the lobbying in Olympia to the Association of Washington Cities, a group in which the city is already a dues-paying member.

“It’s a great solution because it doesn’t cost us anything,” said City Councilman Kjell Stoknes, who joined his colleagues last week in supporting the altered plan.

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New May date to vote for swapping the mayor for a manager

Bainbridge Islanders have set a new date to vote on ballot measure that would dramatically change their city government.

Now they just need to change state law to make the vote legal.

The City Council on Tuesday approved a resolution marking May 19 as the day voters may chose to eliminate the elected mayor position and replace it with a hired city manager. But moving the vote almost six months prior to the November 2009 general election runs counter to state law. That’s why the city aims to lobby Olympia to soften voting date rules.

“You’ve made your statement, and we’re going to take care of it,” council chair Bill Knobloch said to the crowd filling much of the council chamber. The council unanimously approved the request for emergency state legislation, the May 19 special election date and a plan to hire a lobbyist to bend the ears of legislators during the 2009 session, which starts in January.

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Scales: ‘The mayor is building a budgetary house of cards’

Former City Councilman Bob Scales says the mayor’s proposed budget would spend too much and cut too little. Read his column below.

Despite a global economic crisis and declining city revenues, Mayor Darlene Kordonowy has proposed yet another unsustainable budget. Over the next two years she plans to add more than $30 million to city coffers by raising taxes, rates and fees, and by going even further into debt.

The mayor needs this extra cash so she can launch the most aggressive capital spending program in the city’s history – $50 million for a handful of mega-projects. This spending program will leave the city with crippling debt, homeowners with higher property taxes and utility customers with massive rate increases, including a 42 percent increase in storm water fees and a 44 percent increase in sewer rates.

The mayor wants to maintain city bureaucracy at a time when other cities are slashing operating expenses and laying off employees. If the City Council approves the mayor’s reckless agenda, they will likely condemn the city to years of financial turmoil.

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Mayor vs. manager vote delayed…again

Islanders will vote later rather than sooner on whether to replace the city’s mayor with a hired manager.

At the direction of the city attorney, petitioners seeking a vote to change the city’s form of government will wait until late next year to put their initiative on the ballot, said petition organizer Dennis Vogt.

Petitioners had initially targeted next month’s ballot for the initiative, but lower-than-expected support convinced them that a later date, possibly on the February ballot, would give them more time to gather signatures. Now the vote appears to have been pushed back an additional nine months, to November 2009.

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Change in government petitioners gather 1,200 signatures

Petitioners pushing for vote on replacing the city’s elected mayor with a hired manager say they have enough signatures to put the measure on the ballot.

Signature gatherer Dennis Vogt filed over 1,200 signatures with the city clerk this week.
Petitioners need almost 1,000 signatures representing 10 percent of the island’s voters for ballot consideration.

Initially targeting the November ballot, petitioners now prefer a February or November 2009 vote.

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Hearing examiner accused of breaking the trust she sought

The city’s newly appointed interim hearing examiner allegedly reneged on a pledge aimed at satisfying concerns that she may favor the mayor in a property dispute.

In a March 2007 audio recording of an examiner hearing, Margaret Klockars, then serving as a fill-in examiner, said she would decline serving as examiner on future Bainbridge cases. She made the pledge to quell criticism that that she may use her decision to curry favor and future employment with Mayor Darlene Kordonowy, who was named in the case.

“Anything that would prevent me from being fair (might be) the fact that I might want to come back here,” Klockars said in a recording made by the city on March 22, 2007. “I can assure you…I would decline if invited to return for any other case.”

Despite her pledge to decline employment, Klockars accepted the mayor’s appointment as hearing examiner 14 months later. She is currently presiding over four cases involving citizen appeals of city decisions.

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Mayor vs. manager vote postponed

Looks like Bainbridge voters will have to wait a bit longer for their second opportunity to vote to not vote for mayor.

Petitioners have decided to move the ballot measure from November to February or November 2009.

A similar measure that would replace the elected mayor with a hired manager failed in 1993, garnering just 38 percent of the vote.

Why try again, after having the seeds kicked out of their watermelon? (As 1993 petition supporter Lois Andrus said in my previous mayor vs. manager article)

Well, for one thing, the island’s changed a lot over the last 15 years, say supporters of the new petition.

But has it changed in ways that would make residents want to relinquish their power to choose the person who helms the city?

It seems that islanders will need a bit more convincing. Petitioners, who didn’t get quite the response they hoped for, recently pushed back the vote to allow more time to make the argument that the island would be better served with a professional manager sitting in the mayor’s office.

My story on the delayed vote is below.

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