Sunday, May 17, 2009

Deadline is June 28 to gather signatures on petitions giving Seattle voters a chance to vote this November to designate five City Council positions as district positions, and to allow citizen-initiated Charter amendments to be voted on yearly

Petitions (with a deadline of June 28) are being circulated that would allow Seattle voters to decide, at the November 2009 general election, two important issues. Following is the language of the two petitions (the complete text of each Charter amendment is a part of each petition, and available at the web site below):
(1) Shall the Charter of the City of Seattle be amended to change the structure of the City Council from an at-large council of nine (9) positions to a council with five (5) district-based and four (4) at-large positions?
(2) Shall the Charter of the City of Seattle be amended to allow amendments presented by voters to be placed on ballots for BOTH state and municipal elections? Currently amendments presented by voters are only allowed in odd years when municipal elections occur.
A new group called Action Seattle filed the petitions, and many other organizations and individuals are or will be supporting the effort. Seattle voters deserve the chance to vote on both petitions this November 2009. As presently constituted, the City Council will not vote to put either issue on the ballot--citizen petitions are the only way.
It is contrary to democracy that, while the City Council can put amendments to the City Charter before the voters every year, the Charter allows amendments proposed by citizen petition to be put before the voters only every two years. Allowing an annual vote on citizen-initiated Charter amendments seems only fair--a "no-brainer."
And while reasonable people can disagree about the districts issue, the current proposal is a compromise leaving four positions at-large (previous proposals, and the actual system during most of Seattle's history, had all City Council positions as districts). Most of the nation's large cities currently have all or part of their City Council positions as districts. This measure would bring Seattle more into line with present practice, and could improve the City Council's responsiveness to the public. We need this debate, and the voters should decide.
If sufficient signatures are not turned in by June 28, it will be another two years (2011!) before either issue can be raised again. Time is short, as 29,500 signatures of registered Seattle voters are needed. This is doable, if plenty of people pitch in. A particular effort will be made to collect signatures at the Northwest Folklife Festival and other fairs and events in the next few weeks. Remember, these petitions do not endorse a yes or no vote, but would put the two issues on the November ballot. If you wish, you can help with one petition and not the other.
To download the petitions: Extra copies of the petitions are also available at Action Seattle, 2817 South McClellan Street (just east of Rainier Avenue). If the office is closed, blank petitions are in the black mailbox to the right of the front door. Also, blank petitions can be mailed to you, or a volunteer can deliver copies to your home or business, if you call (206) 774-9146 or e-mail to

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