Yes On Three

Voters tweak county charter

By: The news Tribune Editorial Board
Published: November 8th in The News Tribune

Pierce County voters embraced the opportunity to slightly remodel county government Tuesday, but they also signaled that they don’t want to take the reins.

Of the nine county charter amendments on the ballot, seven passed. Several were small changes in the internal workings of county government. Others — such as instant runoff voting — will have broader impact. Pierce County could become the first jurisdiction in the state to try the intriguing experiment in democracy that eliminates primary elections.

Voters also moved beyond the scandals of the past and looked with new favor on an elected sheriff. And they decided that the state constitution’s protection against state and local government condemning private property for private economic development wasn't enough and put additional limits on the county’s exercise of eminent domain.

What voters didn't do was just as worthy of note. They turned down two amendments aimed at making citizen initiatives and referendums easier to get on the ballot. Those results mirrored the last county charter amendment election in 1996 when voters turned down three amendments that sought to make initiatives and referendums more of a force in county government.

Pierce County voters clearly believe in representative government and want to avoid government-by-initiative. But, as they demonstrated Tuesday, that faith isn't limitless. Given the chance every 10 years to have a say in how county government should work, voters will take it.





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