A ballot initiative to downgrade Port Angeles from a code city to a second-class city is likely bound for defeat after initial election returns showed overwhelming support to keep city government in its current status. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

A ballot initiative to downgrade Port Angeles from a code city to a second-class city is likely bound for defeat after initial election returns showed overwhelming support to keep city government in its current status. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

Second-class-city measure resoundingly rejected

PORT ANGELES — Voters ensured that the city of Port Angeles would not become the first city in Washington to change from a code city with home-rule powers to a second-class city without those powers.

They voted down the proposal Tuesday in resounding fashion.

The margin of defeat for the proposition as of Tuesday night’s initial ballot count was 78 percent opposed to the change, or 2,493 votes, to 22 percent in favor, or 723 votes. More votes will be counted today.

It was the largest gap for any proposition or race on the Clallam County ballot except one: Fire District 3 Commissioner Steve Chinn’s 80 percent vs. 20 percent victory over perennial fire district candidate Sean Ryan.

The election results made Mayor Patrick Downie’s day.

“I was very pleased with that [second-class measure] vote,” he said Wednesday.

“That makes my heart go pitter-patter.”

Approval of the measure “would not have been good for this community,” Downie added. “We would have been setting ourselves back many years.”

Proposition 1, proposed by the anti-fluoridation group Our Water, Our Choice!, would have been enacted, according to the measure, to elect a new seven-person Port Angeles City Council, including the four new members chosen by voters Tuesday.

Its approval would have meant the city could pass laws only under authority granted by the state Legislature, and city residents would have lost the power to put forward measures such as Proposition 1.

The city spent $6,545 for a legal analysis that called the proposal “deceptive and misleading” and recommended it be reviewed by a court.

Even Our Water, Our Choice! Vice Chair Mike Libera, who does not live within the city limits, said he was against the proposal, which he said was about more than changing city government.

The purpose in pushing the measure was to bring the issue of fluoridation to a vote of the people, he said.

“If I lived in the city, I probably would have voted for it,” Libera said.

“We are glad it didn’t pass,” he added.

“We brought it up to get their attention.

“Of course it was worth it. It was a great strategy. We got rid of fluoride.”

Our Water, Our Choice! chair Eloise Kailin of Sequim called the change in government a “draconian” solution in a Jan. 22 Peninsula Daily News interview.

“We think now that the change of government is not necessary,” she said Wednesday.

The name-gathering process to put the measure on the ballot was “well along the line” when the City Council decided on the fluoridation advisory ballot, and there was an obligation to those who signed it to put it up for a vote, Kailin said.

She would not comment on whether she favored the measure.

“I’m concentrating on the fluoridation issue,” Kailin said.

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Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at pgottlieb@peninsuladailynews.com.

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