Once every 10 years, the City reviews its local constitution called the City Charter. This is a basic governance document that spells out the powers reserved for the people. It also includes the job description and expectations for elected officials and certain staff functions at the City. A dedicated group of citizens from across the City reviewed the City Charter throughout the first part of this year and held several public hearings along the way to gain public feedback. A whole slew of changes were delivered to the Council for review, and after much deliberation, my colleagues and I agreed to put 12 Charter Amendments before the people to vote on.
I am urging you to support the 12 Amendments; help us to bring more accountability to City Hall and allow our citizens to hold our elected officials accountable for the challenges and policies that affect your everyday life. Unfortunately, the opposition to all of the amendments takes a cynical, pessimistic view of the world. That is too bad as I believe things are largely headed in the right direction in Tacoma, and with your involvement, we can continue our forward movement.
Here’s a look at a few of the amendments that I think are most important for you to consider:
YES on Amd. 2 (Gender Neutrality)
- The Charter today reads as if only men work at City Hall. Let’s bring the document into the 21st century and acknowledge the hard work of men and women who work for all of us.
YES on Amd. 4 (Emergency Ordinances)
- From time to time there are emergencies that City Hall policy makers need to address to protect neighborhoods and our city. An emergency is immediate, and it shouldn’t take 48+ hours for the solution to be put in to place.
YES on Amd. 5 (Confirming Department Heads)
- Council Members are your representatives. As such, we should have buy-in and confidence in the people leading each department to ensure they share the values and priorities of the people of Tacoma.
YES on Amd. 6 (Confirmation of Utility Director)
- The highest paid public employee, the Director of Tacoma Public Utilities, should be accountable to the public through their elected representatives. In this 21st century, the public expects more accountability, not less. Bring transparency and accountability to the direction of our publicly owned utility by enabling the Council to confirm the appointment of the Director after being reviewed and managed by the Utility Board.
YES on Amd. 8 (Term Limits for Mayor & Council)
- I believe we should not restrict voters from having a say in who they want to lead their government. While most would agree that term limits are a very conservative idea and take power away from the people and give it to unelected bureaucrats, this item does not remove term limits—it keeps them in place. This amendment allows an experienced council member to run for Mayor if he/she chooses and to give options to voters. Most voters I talk to take experience seriously when making a voting decision, no different than when they are hiring a lawyer, realtor, doctor, or some other professional to represent their interests.
You can get more information on all 12 amendments HERE.
I am always happy to speak via email or phone with you about any of these amendments or any other matter facing the city.