Longer term limits for Pierce County Council members and the Pierce County executive are among the proposals still alive after a major winnowing by an elected commission reviewing the county’s charter.
Twenty-eight proposed amendments remain from the 69 presented by the public, elected officials and members of the Pierce County Charter Review Commission. The 21-member commission, now in its fifth month of work, hopes to settle on a few amendments to put on the November ballot, said Sharon Hanek, the commission’s chairwoman.
Many of the proposals are technical fixes or small tweaks. Perhaps the most far-reaching proposal would extend the present two-term limit for Pierce County Council members and Pierce County executive to three terms. It was put forth by Amy Cruver, assistant to Councilman Jim McCune.
Every 10 years, voters elect a Charter Review Commission to study the county’s basic governing document and propose amendments. Three nonpartisan commissioners are elected from each of the seven Pierce County Council districts.
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Other proposals still under consideration would:
▪ Change Pierce County Council elections from even to odd years to coincide with other local elections.
▪ Increase or decrease the signature count requirements for referendums and initiatives.
▪ Require public notice when council members offer amendments to proposed ordinances.
▪ Allow the public to lodge complaints when county officials violate the charter. A judge would decide charter violations, which would carry penalties up to forfeiture of office.
Among the proposals the commission has already scuttled are the creation of a county ombudsman, making the office of county prosecutor nonpartisan and the disclosure of discussions the County Council has behind closed doors if it later takes votes on the issues involved.
Other failed proposals are an expansion of the Pierce County Council up to 21 members and the establishment of English as the official language of Pierce County government.
Former Pierce County Executive John Ladenburg, a commission member, warned fellow members last week to advance only the most essential proposals so as to not overwhelm voters who already are facing a crowded presidential-year ballot.
Hanek said the group aims to settle on a smaller number of final proposals by mid-June, hold public hearings on those proposals later that month and finish its work by mid-year. The commission next meets Wednesday (May 11) at 7 p.m. at the County Annex.
John Gillie: 253-597-8663