Elections officials notified the city of Tacoma on Friday that a citizens initiative to raise the city’s minimum wage to $15 an hour has qualified for the November ballot.
Pierce County auditor’s staff verified that petitions submitted by the 15 Now Tacoma group contained 3,231 valid signatures of registered Tacoma voters, surpassing the 3,160-signature requirement. Another 2,304 signatures were declared invalid for a variety of reasons.
Under the city charter, the City Council can approve Proposition 1 as written or forward it to voters. The council cannot modify the proposal.
The council could act to officially reject the measure as a public statement of its displeasure. But the city would still be obligated to ask the Pierce County auditor to add it to the ballot, City Clerk Doris Sorum said Friday.
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Alan “OldStudent” Stancliff, a 15 Now volunteer, said Friday that his group is moving ahead with its campaign, even as a City Council-convened task force continues to meet to develop an alternative measure that could share the ballot.
“Speaking for myself, I don’t see any reason to abandon Proposition 1,” Stancliff said. “We have a responsibility to the low-wage workers of Tacoma.”
According to the proposed 15 Now measure, businesses making gross revenues of $300,000 per year or more would have to pay a $15 minimum wage with no phase-in period or exceptions based on a business’s number of employees.
Stancliff wouldn’t rule out the 15 Now Tacoma group withdrawing its measure if the task force comes up with an acceptable proposal.
But Sorum said it’s unclear whether a city initiative, once qualified, can be withdrawn. Lawyers are researching the question.
The deadline for submitting measures for the November ballot is Aug. 4. No set deadline exists for removing something from the ballot, but elections officials would need to get notice in the first half of August before they finish the November ballot’s design, Auditor Julie Anderson said Friday.
Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland, after prompting by the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber, called for the creation of a city task force last month. She and other Tacoma City Council members chose 17 people, including two alternates, to develop a counterproposal to the 15 Now ballot measure.
The task force plans to finish its work by June 30, and make a recommendation to the City Council.