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News / Politics / Election

Vancouver voters will mull charter changes

One proposal affects sitting councilors running for mayor

By Amy Fischer, Columbian City Government Reporter
Published: October 19, 2015, 6:00am

Vancouver voters have five proposed city charter amendments to consider on their general election ballots — and one of them would sharply raise the stakes on running for mayor.

The charter, which serves as the city’s constitution, is reviewed every five years by a committee of 15 residents who recommend potential changes to the city council. The 2014 Charter Review Committee recommended the following five charter changes for this year’s ballot:

• Changing the requirements for a council member running for mayor at midterm. The amendment would force midterm council members who run for mayor to forfeit their council seats at the end of the year, even if they don’t win the mayorship. They would have to give their notice of intent to run for mayor 30 days prior to the filing deadline, essentially tendering their resignations.

If this ballot measure had been adopted previously, freshman Councilor Bill Turlay would have forfeited his seat halfway through his four-year term when he unsuccessfully ran for mayor against incumbent Tim Leavitt in 2013. His seat would have been opened to other candidates in that November’s election.

The reasoning behind the charter amendment is that council members who run for mayor in the middle of their terms get a “free ride,” unlike council members at the end of their terms, who must choose whether to run for re-election or run for mayor.

• Revising how citizens can access the text of proposed ordinances. The amendment would require the full text of all ordinances to be posted on the city’s website. It would remove the provision requiring a full reading of the ordinance at a council meeting.

• Updating the charter’s anti-discrimination language to make it consistent with state and federal law.

• Adding a section emphasizing the importance of boards, commissions, advisory committees and task forces and how they can be established and dissolved.

• Simplifying and clarifying the initiative process by defining timelines for the steps, requiring the city attorney’s office to weigh in on whether the initiative would be legal, and removing the option for a second round of signature-gathering if not enough signatures were on the submitted petition.

Columbian City Government Reporter