Wednesday, November 9, 2011
The voters have spoken and by a two-to-one margin they turned down an appeal to establish a home rule charter in Yakima County.
The proposition failed Tuesday night by a margin of 66.27 to 33.73 percent - 17,040 voting against and 8,674 in favor.
If approved, the Home Rule measure would have done away with existing county government and replaced it with a board of up to nine part-time commissioners working with a newly created county administrator position.
Advocates for Home Rule claimed during the build-up to the election that the current county government structure of three full-time commissioners is broken and that wider representation is needed.
Supporters such as former Yakima City Council member Neal McClure noted failures in county government such as a new, non-operational jail. "There has to be a way to make government work better," McClure said during a Home Rule debate held in Yakima last month.
During the same debate last month, newspaper publisher Bruce Smith contended the home rule movement was being proposed by Democrats as a way for those party members to get elected into county government. He asserted that since they can't get elected under the current system, Democrats want to change the rules to increase their chances with more commissioner seats.
In related election news, voters also elected 15 freeholders who would have crafted a new county government if Home Rule passed.
Those results are for naught, however, because voters turned down the proposal.