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Candidate Information Resources for Local Government Elective Offices


MRSC has created this webpage especially for local government elective office candidates. It is useful for persons who are considering filing for office, those who are candidates and have filed, and those who may be considering applying for a vacancy in an elective office. There are a host of issues that will require your attention in the upcoming months as you begin your campaign and, if you are elected, as you prepare to assume the duties of your office. We hope you will find these resources to be helpful. Good luck in your campaign!

Election Campaign Guidelines and Requirements

The Secretary of State's and the Public Disclosure Commission's websites offer information on elections and voting, and various forms, compliance manuals and other resources for office candidates. Most county auditor elections division websites list Offices Open for Election, often under the heading Information for Candidates. For links to the sites, see the Secretary of State County Elections Departments in Washington State page.

Governing Tools

Some basic tools have been assembled to familiarize candidates with the resources available on the functioning of local government. First in this section is the legal framework of local government - a list of statutes and where to find local government laws. A list of guides follows which covers some of the basic concepts, such as appearance of fairness, open government, social media issues and MRSC's basic legal guide, Knowing the Territory. A number of handbooks have also been listed that are used for reference by elected officials.

Legal Framework Statutes

The links listed below are to the basic laws that govern the various forms of government. There is no single statute covering special purpose districts. A link has been provided to a list of special purpose districts and the statutory provisions that govern the districts operation.

Where to Find Local Government Regulations

Washington local government legislation is generally in the form of ordinances and resolutions. State law may specify whether an ordinance or resolution is to be used on certain local laws. Some special purpose districts only use resolutions. Many jurisdictions post ordinances and resolutions on their websites. A number of local governments have codified their local laws into code books. MRSC provides a link to those codes.

  • Washington City Codes - Codified ordinances adopted by Washington cities and town legislative bodies; not all jurisdictions have code books
  • Washington County Codes - Codified ordinances and resolutions adopted by Washington county legislative bodies

Quick Reference - Need to Know Guides

Handbooks for Elected Officials

Roles of Elected Officials

It is essential for effective local government that municipal officials understand the roles of their respective offices and their interrelationships with others. We offer several publications and articles that discuss this important issue:


One of your primary responsibilities as an elected official will be to discuss, develop and adopt local laws and policies. Information on the drafting and adoption of ordinances and resolutions is available in our handbooks on "Local Government Policy-Making" and "Local Ordinances." Some local ordinances, however, are adopted or reviewed directly by the public; information regarding the local initiative and referendum process is available in our handbook on "Initiatives and Referendums":

Open Government

Openness and accountability are critical to the health of our democratic system of government. MRSC offers several resources dealing with the state open public meetings act, public records disclosure laws and strategies for connecting citizens and government:

Local Government Finance/Budgeting

Paying for government is always a challenging issue. See MRSC's city and county revenue guide and budget suggestions publications for more information on city finance issues:

Other MRSC Finance/Budgeting Resources

Training for Newly Elected Officials

  • Elected Officials Essentials Workshop, Association of Washington Cities - See calendar for up to date information on AWC's schedule for training workshops.
  • MRSC Webinar Archive - MRSC provides relevant and timely training on issues of interest to local governments, such as ethics, public records, open government, governance, purchasing and contracting, customer service and public finance. This training is provided through webinars that we produce. MRSC staff are also frequent speakers at local government conferences.
  • Newly-Elected Officials Conference (WSAC/WACO), Washington Counties Training Institute

Last Modified: November 24, 2015