04/28/2012: "Charter Review Wrap Up Saturday With A Return To 3 Commissioners-But Full Time"
San Juan County Charter Review Commission (CRC) is on Saturday April 28th at the San Juan Grange from 8:30am to 2 p.m.
The CRC will attempt to pass Findings that support the recommendation for the proposed amendments to the Charter;,which will have to be approved the voters. And the big question is how will their recommendations read on the ballot; what, exactly will the voters be asked approve or reject.
While it is expected the recommendation will be for a return to three-member commission, with with legislative and administrative authority -just like what the Charter replaced, this time there will still be a County Manager, and still directly responsible to the commission. One big change, the countywide elections will be non-partisan. As for the the powers of initiative, referendum and mini-initiative, the CRC has not suggested those be changed.
At the April 14th meeting on Orcas the CRC heard a presentation from Kevin Ranker, former County Council member, former County Commissioner and current Washington State Senator. Mr. Ranker expressed his support for Home Rule in San Juan County, noting that the increased flexibility is important. He also encouraged the CRC to propose structural changes for the long-term, noting that some of the original Charter elements were in response to the conditions and personalities at the time. He expressed strong support for a return to full-time Council members elected countywide. In response to a question from a CRC member, Mr. Ranker agreed that the role of the Council representing the County in Olympia is critical. Mr. Ranker also expressed support for a three-member council, a professional manager with some separation of powers, the initiative and referendum process, and for a return to partisan elections.
It its working session the CRC began the process of finalizing proposed Charter amendments. Language was approved by majority vote to make the section on Financial Administration consistent with changes to the role of the County Manager as well as changes to clarify the intent of the preamble and the continuation of statutory duties by other elected officials. The CRC also approved, by majority vote, motions concerning future CRC elections and amendments. These motions put forward a proposal that the next CRC election take placed in 2020 at least every 10 years after that in even years (so the amendments can be voted on in years without Council member elections), that any CRC member absent from 4 consecutive CRC meetings would be considered to have vacated or resigned the position; that candidates need to have been registered voters in the County for 5-years prior to running (rather than residents), and clarifying language on how Charter amendments are presented on the ballot.
The CRC also considered, but did not adopt, motions to prohibit fees for appeals of enforcement actions before the Hearing Examiner; to authorize the County Council to assign budget preparation to the County Manager; and to prohibit any CRC member from running for County Council for the next 2 terms.