Email to the Editor

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Scratch the surface of any long term problem in Mason County and you’ll find a past action (or inaction) by the Board of County Commissioners that either created the condition or made it worse than it needed to be.

That’s because the biggest problem in Mason County is not crime, housing or taxes, but our current form of county government. More precisely, a three member board of commissioners elected on a partisan basis is better at creating issues than resolving them.

Fortunately, an alternative form of local government is available:

Article 11, section 4 of the Washington State Constitution was amended in 1948 to provide the option for counties to adopt “home rule” charters to provide their own form of government that may be different from the commission form prescribed by state law.

Some of the opportunities available with home rule include better citizen representation, non-partisan elected positions, separation of legislative and executive duties, and perhaps most importantly, a process that gives the powers of initiative and referendum to citizens of the county.

To date, seven counties in Washington have shifted from the commission form of government to home rule: Pierce, San Juan, Clark, Clallam, King, Snohomish and Whatcom. This tells us is that charter government appeals to counties of all sizes, populations, economies and even political preferences.

Growing communities need governing bodies that are diverse and flexible enough to recognize and navigate changing conditions before they become chronic. If local history has taught us anything it’s that unchecked authority vested in a three member board results in governance that is too political, too top-heavy and too evasive to do anything but apply short term fixes, often with worsening results.

Over the next few months you will be hearing more about home rule charter form of county government. The important thing to remember is that home rule provides more organizational diversity, more long term financial stability and more citizen input than a partisan board of commissioners ever has or ever will.

Home Rule Charter: Local government designed by the people for the people.

You can submit your "Email To The Editor" here..