LONGVIEW — In November, Woodland voters will decide who will have more power: its elected mayor or hired city administrator.
The council unanimously voted in July to send the question to voters in the general election.
Councilwoman DeeAnna Holland previously said the city has grown too large for the current mayor-council form of government. Current Woodland Mayor Will Finn also supports the change that would downgrade his role as the city’s chief administrator to a ceremonial figurehead.
Finn wrote the argument in support of Proposition 1 in both the Clark and Cowlitz county Voters’ Pamphlet, stating Woodland’s current form of government gives too much power to an elected official to lead a city with a multimillion-dollar budget despite qualifications. He said little would change if Proposition 1 passes because there is already an employee doing many duties of a city manager today.
Though Finn is considered the city’s chief administrator, he said he hired Woodland’s first city administrator, Peter Boyce, in 2016 to provide “professional management.” Boyce would continue his role as city manager if the change is adopted, and “the only thing changing is the title on the door,” said Finn.
If Proposition 1 passes, the city manager would provide policy advice to the council and be directed by the council. Other local municipalities with council-manager forms of governments include Longview and Kelso.
In Woodland’s current mayor-council form of government, an elected mayor serves as the chief administrator officer. The mayor is chosen and removed by a vote of the constituents. This system mirrors the state and federal separation of powers in the United States, according to the nonprofit Municipal Research and Services Center of Washington, which provides legal and policy guidance.
Changing Woodland’s system to a council-manager form of government allows the elected city council to appoint and remove the hired manager. The change also would downgrade the role of mayor from having administrative duties to a ceremonial role. The mayor would continue to preside over council meetings, but no longer vote during ties. This system mirrors a board of directors who appoints a CEO, according to the Municipal Research and Services Center of Washington.
General election ballots have been mailed and are due Nov. 2. The Woodland ballot box is at 336 Davidson Ave., near the city’s utility payment drop box.