County would work fine without partisan leaders

Next week’s primary election isn’t exactly a barn-burner, as many races only have two candidates, at best. Most candidates will move on to the general election. Still there is an issue on the ballot that deserves attention.

  • BY Wire Service
  • Friday, August 15, 2008 5:58pm
  • Opinion

Next week’s primary election isn’t exactly a barn-burner, as many races only have two candidates, at best. Most candidates will move on to the general election. Still there is an issue on the ballot that deserves attention.

King County Initiative 26 asks voters if they want to consider making county government offices non-partisan.

They should.

First, your vote this time actually won’t make that happen. The issue on the primary ballot only directs that the measure go on the general election ballot if a majority of voters say yes. But the initiative won’t be on the November ballot unless we say yes next Tuesday.

If Initiative 26 is approved by voters, it would place a charter amendment on the November 2008 general election ballot that would ask, “Shall the King County Charter be amended to make the offices of King County executive, King county assessor and King County Council non-partisan, and to establish the non-partisan selection of districting committee members?”

When citizens formed King County’s charter several years ago, the recommendation was to make these offices non-partisan. Instead, the council at the time kept the political designations on officeholders.

There was no good reason to have partisan offices then, or now.

Consider: Is flood control best handled by the Democrats or the Republicans? Should our criminal justice system be of the Democratic persuasion or Republican? Should there be buses for Democrats or Republicans?

You get the drift.

Just as our cities work fine without the partisan bickering of the officeholders, so, too, will King County.

What counts, at least at this level, is what the candidate brings to the table in terms of finding solutions to the ongoing problem of governance.

Former Washington governors Booth Gardner (a Democrat) and Dan Evans (a Republican) have endorsed this change. Unfortunately, the partisan County Council has refused to allow this issue to go on the ballot even though such respected groups as the Municipal League of King County and the League of Women Voters asked that it be done.

The initiative wouldn’t ban party endorsements. Candidates still would be able to list endorsements or groups or organizations in the voters’ guide.

Voting yes on I-26 would make our elections more competitive and give voters more choices. Isn’t that the way they should be?

Vote yes on Initiative 26.

Craig Groshart is editor of the Bellevue Reporter, part of the newspaper group that includes the Covington and Maple Valley Reporter.


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