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2018 General Election Part 3: Non-Revenue Edition


November 13, 2018 by Steve Hawley
Category: Elections , Forms of Government-City , Annexation , Marijuana , Forms of Government-County

2018 General Election Part 3: Non-Revenue Edition

Ok, today I’ll wrap up my 3-part look at local ballot measure results in the 2018 Washington State general election. In part 1, I took a look at sales tax measures. In part 2, I focused on property taxes and bonds. Today, I’ll take a look at the non-revenue measures, such as city and county charters, changes to governance structures, and advisory votes.

I’ll update our Local Ballot Measure Database once the results have been certified.

Everett City Charter

The only city charter amendment on the ballot was in Everett. In a 2-part ballot measure, voters approved the establishment of city council districts and opted for the “5-2” model with five districts and two at-large seats. (The other alternative they were presented with was “4-3,” with four districts and three at-large seats.)

County Charters

Voters in Skagit County overwhelmingly rejected a proposition to establish a board of freeholders to frame a home rule charter. Lewis County also had a proposed board of freeholders on the ballot, which faced a legal challenge due to the county’s proposal to divide each county commission district into five subdistricts for the purposes of electing freeholders. Shortly before the election, a superior court judge ruled in the county’s favor that the subdistricts were constitutional, but voters rejected the measure.

There are currently seven charter counties in Washington. Clark County was the most recent county to adopt a home rule charter, doing so in 2015.

Meanwhile, voters in Pierce County easily approved three charter amendments:

  • Establishing a biennial budget process,
  • Streamlining and clarifying the procedures for initiative, agenda, referendum, and charter amendment petitions, and
  • Requiring vacancies in partisan elective offices to be filled by appointment from a list of names submitted by the party that most recently held the seat. If the previous officeholder did not state a party affiliation or identified with a minor party, the vacancy will be filled according to the procedure for nonpartisan offices.

Council-Manager Form of Government in Washougal

Voters in Washougal have supported a switch to the council-manager form of government. A similar proposal failed by a large margin five years earlier, but it’s unclear what led voters to change their minds.

Recreational Marijuana

The Eatonville town council, after passing a series of marijuana moratoriums, asked voters to weigh in with an advisory vote. However, voters were evenly divided over whether or not to allow marijuana businesses in town. The ballot measure was framed as “Should the town ban recreational marijuana businesses?,” and right now the “no” vote (opposing a marijuana ban) is winning by the slimmest of margins (just 5 votes as of this writing, or 0.7%).

Other jurisdictions that have held advisory votes on marijuana in recent years include Benton City, Bonney Lake, Federal Way, the City of Snohomish, Tacoma, Pierce County, and Yakima County, each with varying results.

Downtown Plazas and Stadiums

Voters in Yakima said no to the idea of replacing a downtown, city-owned parking lot with a central plaza. The idea has been contentious since it was proposed five years ago, with proponents citing the potential to remake the downtown area and opponents focusing on the loss of adjacent parking spaces. While the vote was not legally binding, both sides said they would abide by the results, and it appears the downtown plaza idea will be abandoned.

And in another advisory vote, Spokane voters opted to build a new school stadium on the site of the existing Joe Albi Stadium, rather than building a downtown stadium.

Fire District Annexations and Mergers

There were several fire district mergers and annexations on the ballot this year, and all were easily approved:

  • Mason County Fire Protection District No. 9 will merge into Fire District No. 16, allowing the two districts to pool resources to address funding and staffing challenges. The new district will be branded as West Mason Fire & Rescue.
  • The City of Stanwood will be annexed into the North County Regional Fire Authority and the number of commissioners will expand from five to seven. The city has contracted with the fire authority for service since 2012, and while it does not expect any change to local taxpayer bills, says that annexation will allow city residents to vote for their fire commissioners.
  • The town of Metaline will be annexed into Pend Oreille County Fire District No. 2.

Also of note, three fire districts all received voter approval to expand from three to five commissioners. The three districts are Snoqualmie Fire & Rescue and Thurston County Fire District Nos. 9 and 12.

Anything Else?

Are there any interesting or noteworthy measures that I missed? Leave a comment below or email me at shawley@mrsc.org.

If you have questions about ballot measures or other local government issues, please use our Ask MRSC form or call us at (206) 625-1300 or (800) 933-6772.

About Steve Hawley

Steve joined MRSC in July 2014 and is responsible for writing, editing, and conducting research for many of MRSC’s website resources, with a particular focus on local government finance, budgeting, ballot measures, and procurement. He has a broad communications and public policy background with over a decade of local government and nonprofit experience.

VIEW ALL POSTS BY Steve Hawley

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