Our Voice: Pasco propositions — No

October 14, 2013 

Two propositions facing Pasco voters are different, but related.

Both of them stem from some dissatisfaction with the city's decision to annex part of what is called the "doughnut hole."

The Citizens for Lifestyle Preservation have one sign supporting both propositions. It reads: Protect Pasco Voting Rights. The signs are deceptive and the issues could be confusing to voters.

Proposition 1

In 2009 and 2013 the city annexed parts of the county. This measure, if approved, would de-annex those areas and put them back in the county.

Some of the county residents in the doughnut hole already were receiving city water and sewer and after signing not to challenge any possible future annexations.

Some of the signers feel like they were coerced into accepting these agreements or were unaware of them because they were signed by previous owners. But the courts have ruled they are legal and binding.

The bigger issue for these folks is that they did not get the chance to vote on whether they wanted to be annexed into the city or not.

Previously, Pasco would wait for a percentage of residents who want to be annexed and that initiated a vote of the property owners.

That didn't happen in the last two annexations. Again, this is within Pasco's legal right.

At one point, the people in the doughnut hole were talking about forming their own city to avoid being annexed. They needed 4,000 people to do that.

The most recent annexation put an end to that possibility by reducing the population in the area to below what is required to form a city.

The proponents say they are no longer interested in incorporating their own city.

They just want things to go back to the way they were.

That ship has sailed.

By starting the talk of incorporation, the people in the doughnut hole forced the city's hand.

Perhaps they could have gone on for years without being part of the city. But eventually it was likely to happen.

In 1992, that area was designated as Pasco's Urban Growth Area.

The election signs are deceptive. The rights of Pasco voters are not being threatened and voting yes on this proposition in no way protects any voters in Pasco.

Proposition 1 and Proposition 2 basically are a retaliation from a small group of people against Pasco's city administration.

Voting in favor of Prop. 1 actually fragments Pasco and hurts it.

Proposition 2

This brings us to the second ballot measure: changing Pasco's form of government.

If approved, this measure would change Pasco from a city council with a hired city manager to a city council and an elected "strong mayor" who would manage the city. That's what Pasco had until 1964.

Pasco has a city council that is elected by constituents. The members of the council elect a mayor.

The mayor runs the meetings, but still has the same voting power as any other council member.

The city council hires (and fires) a city manager -- in this case Gary Crutchfield.

The city manager oversees much of the day-to-operations of the city.

They make recommendations to the council and the council approves or rejects those measures.

The council sets policies and goals.

Under the strong-mayor form of government there are an even number of council members and a mayor, who can cast the deciding vote.

The mayor also runs the city. He can hire a city manager or do it himself.

A strong mayor for a city the size of Pasco would either have to hire a city administrator, adding another layer of cost to the city, or be a highly skilled professional with expertise in human resources, city and state codes and standards, etc.

It's not a job most of the population is qualified for, although anyone can run for the office.

When a city has a strong mayor, it could be more susceptible to the panderings and cronyism of one person.

And we've seen that it can be harder to recall a mayor than it is to fire a city manager.

Crutchfield has been the city manager for a long time. He has done a lot of good things for Pasco. Has he stepped on some toes? Yes. Probably just about everyone's at some time.

But leaders make tough calls. And if you don't like it, take it up with the city council. They hold his leash.

Again, this proposition in no way affects the voting rights of anyone in Pasco.

Pasco residents vote for their council members who, in turn, hire a city manager.

Who knows? If it passes, Gary Crutchfield may run for mayor?

The Tri-City Herald recommends rejecting Pasco's Proposition 1 and Proposition 2.

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