Charter Change would make it as easy to get an ordinance on the ballot as it is in the City of Bellingham alone.
Under the proposal it would take about 6500 signatures to get an ordinance on the ballot COUNTYWIDE while it takes 6100 signatures to do the same in the CITY of BELLINGHAM.
The County Council garnered enough votes at the June 1st County Council Meeting to clear the way for an Amendment to the County Charter being placed on the November Ballot. It takes 5 out of 7 Council People voting Yea to put an amendment to the Charter on the ballot. The vote was 5 Aye 1 Nay and 1 Absent. See the County Action Agenda here.
Normally Charter amendments are debated for a longer period of time by the Charter Review Commission which is elected every 10 years to consider amendments of all kinds. The Commission is elected for a year and serves voluntarily.
Five years ago the Council was perceived to have overridden the sitting Charter Review Commission when it passed amendments, presented to the voters, changing the three districts then in place to the current five districts… Politically, under the 3 District system the Council would have taken on a more balanced membership between the left and the right but the change to the Charter initiated by the liberal Council kept the Council markedly more liberal over the last 5 years. See our stories on Moratorium government here and here.
The Current Ballot Measure
“NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT ORDAINED by the Whatcom County Council that the County Auditor place on the November 2021 general election ballot a charter amendment that persons proposing an initiative must “collect the signatures of the registered voters in the county equal in number to not less than eight (8) percent of the vote cast in the county in the last regular county executive election,” and the requirement for a mini-initiative be “the signatures of qualified voters equal in number to not less than three (3) percent of the number of votes cast in the county in the last county executive election.” The changes would amend Section 5.40 and Section 5.41 of the County Charter as shown in Exhibit A.”
The effect of a Yes Vote for the Charter Amendment on the November Ballot would be to reduce the number of signatures to put a County Ordinance on the ballot from 11,000 to about 6,500… That is approximately the same number of signatures to get an initiative on the ballot in the City of Bellingham Alone.
It should be an interesting debate…
It would then be easier for the sponsors of initiatives like the following to get their items on the ballot COUNTYWIDE and passed.
Make certain you are educated on this one and know the options…