Federal Way voters will get a second chance in November to decide whether to switch from a city manager form of government to a strong, elected mayor.
A group led by Roy Parke collected more than the required 1,568 valid signatures to put the measure on the Nov. 3 ballot.
Parke also led the signature drive that sent the same measure to voters in February 2008. That strong mayor proposal – the first in the city’s history – was defeated with a 55-percent “no” vote and a nearly 45-percent “yes” vote.
Parke said his group, called Accountability Comes to Town, will do a better job getting its message out this time.
“It was the first time and the effort wasn’t run well,” Parke said.
“I feel we need a chief executive officer for the city that’s directly accountable to the people,” Parke said. “We don’t have any checks and balances with the City Council right now.”
Parke, 57, owns and drives a semitruck for a living. He fought a long-standing battle from 1996 to 2000 with the city over flooding at his former property.
City Council member Jim Ferrell said he supports the strong mayor proposal, as he did in 2008. This time, at the urging of Parke, Ferrell said he will be the spokesman for the measure and help manage the campaign. Ferrell also said he will run for mayor if the measure passes.
Parke and his group submitted 2,090 signatures. Of those, 1,640 were valid, said King County elections spokeswoman Megan Coppersmith. She said it won’t cost the city any additional money to add the measure to the ballot because other city races will already appear there.
Jerry Vaughn, 62, who will work to oppose the measure as he did in 2008, said the council-manager form of government is more accountable than that of a strong mayor. Vaughn said the measure doesn’t require an elected mayor to have any specific training.
“We just believe it takes specialized training, experience and skills to manage a 50-plus million-dollar budget with over 360 employees,” Vaughn said.
Federal Way has had a council-manager form of government since becoming a city in 1990. Under the current form, the City Council elects the mayor – a mostly ceremonial post – from its ranks every two years, while a professional city manager runs the city.
Strong elected mayors, like the ones in Auburn, Kent and Gig Harbor, work full time directing city operations.
The measure would make Federal Way the largest city in the region with a strong, elected mayor.
Steve Maynard: 253-597-8647 firstname.lastname@example.org