In Focus: Vote for a strong mayor for Pasco

October 18, 2013 

Thank you to the thousands of Pasco citizens who provided signatures to place Proposition 2 on the Nov. 5 ballot. For the first time in 49 years, Pasco voters will be able to change their form of government to a mayor, elected by all Pasco residents, from a city manager chosen by as few as four city council members.

More than 80 percent of Washington cities have chosen to operate under the mayor-council plan.

Washington’s 10 largest cities operate under this mayor-council plan. Citizens in these communities choose an elected mayor, preferring that the public’s business be conducted in an open, honest and fair manner. These citizens appreciate accessibility to the executive officer that an elected mayor provides. Since 1964, Pasco has grown to over 65,000 citizens, and is ready to graduate to a city that is run by a responsive, elected mayor.

Only 18 percent of Washington cities still employ a city manager. Today, the Pasco government is managed by an unelected/unaccountable city manager, a municipal employee with no term limit or obligation to have the support of the community or its residents.

The city manager earns $153,600 per year, a $12,000 annual bonus, a generous car allowance, fringe benefits exceeding the median income of Pasco residents, for a total compensation package approaching $250,000 per year. Despite dissatisfaction with the performance, citizens have no direct say in hiring or firing the city manager and no input on this excessive compensation package. This abuse fails the test for good, effective use of taxpayer resources. In contrast, the successful city of Auburn, with a population of 73,500, has a mayor-council plan. Set by a local commission, its mayor earns $116,000 per year, receiving no bonuses, car allowance nor other questionable compensation.

Pasco is home to numerous well-qualified and professional citizens. Many of these fine men and women are willing, capable and prepared to run for and carry out the responsibilities of elected Mayor. An elected mayor chosen by Pasco’s residents will be best suited to carry out the functions of Pasco’s city government, based on the needs and desires of those citizens.

The mayor-council plan separates executive and legislative powers, providing a system of checks and balances patterned after our national and state constitutions. Proposition 2 places Pasco’s executive authority, including the veto, in a mayor, elected at large. The city council, without any change in the current election process, is vested with legislative, policy-making and veto override authorities. An elected mayor will be directly accountable to Pasco’s citizens via the ballot box. Pasco citizens will judge their elected mayor on all city actions, including: appropriate land use development; appropriate planning to avoid traffic congestion; strong public safety; low cost of services; ease of permitting; fair, reasonable and evenly applied regulations; balanced budgets; as well as helpful, courteous, and responsive staff at city hall. An elected mayor always is accountable, and must base decisions on the needs and desires of the community. When something goes wrong, Pasco’s elected mayor would be accountable and may be replaced by voters.

Pasco’s elected mayor will provide a single point of public accountability for all city departments. An elected mayor selects and leads qualified professional managers, to fairly and honestly conduct the city’s business. When a citizen encounters an issue that needs to be resolved, the elected mayor has the authority and responsibility make it right.

Protect the voting rights available to you under state law, the right to elect your mayor.

Let your friends and neighbors know and vote to accept Proposition 2 — an elected Mayor for Pasco.

Frank Votaw worked for Burlington Northern Railroad in the Pasco rail yard and as a transportation manager at Hanford. Roger Bettencourt is retired as a master sergeant from the Army Reserve/National Guard after 30 years of military service and currently drives a bus for the Pasco School District.

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