Special Reports

Drive to change city government pays solicitors up to $1 a name

Sponsors of a move to change Tacoma's city government are paying as much as $1 per signature to people they've hired to stand in public places asking registered voters to sign petitions.

They need valid signatures from at least 7,029 registered Tacoma voters to get the issue on the ballot. They expect to collect at least 10,000 signatures and turn them in a month from today - July 7 - in order to put the measure on the Nov. 4 ballot.

They hope to get 12,000 names, just for good measure.

The group, known as Time For A Change, wants to throw out the appointed city manager form of government and replace it with the strong mayor form, in which an elected mayor is the city's chief executive officer.

If their proposed city charter change makes the ballot and is approved, the City Council would shrink by two members on Jan. 1 and Mayor Bill Baarsma would take over the reins of the city.

The drive began amid questions about City Manager Ray Corpuz's leadership and management decisions after Police Chief David Brame killed his wife and committed suicide.

"We're frantically working," petition drive organizer Sherry Bockwinkel said Friday. "We're doing what it takes six months to do in two months."

Bockwinkel said the drive is "on target" but she refused to divulge how many signatures have been gathered. That's bad strategy, she said.

Because it takes more time to gather signatures from the small pool of voters registered only in Tacoma, as opposed to a statewide drive, the campaign is paying some gatherers $1 per name, Bockwinkel said.

Treasurer Rob Chatham said the campaign "is pretty grass-roots," with mostly small donations and none over about $100.

He hadn't compiled the latest income and expense numbers Friday afternoon, so he didn't want to say how much money the campaign has raised. Its next report to the Public Disclosure Commission is due next week.

Kris Sherman: 253-597-8659



• Call 253-272-6785

• visit www.timeforachange tacoma.org