Signatures sufficient to put Port Townsend proposition on ballot

PORT TOWNSEND – Jefferson County elections officials on Monday validated enough signatures to put a proposition to abandon the Port Townsend City Council-city manager form of government on the Nov. 6 ballot.

“Let the dialog begin,” said the proposed measure’s chief proponent, John Sheehan.

“I think the people have a lot to say about it.”

Karen Cartmel, Jefferson County Auditor’s Office chief deputy/elections, said that the office issued Sheehan a certificate of sufficiency on Monday.

Sheehan submitted 67 more signatures on Monday morning, and the needed number of 455, or 10 percent of the city’s registered voters, was counted and certified on Monday afternoon.

After counting and certifying the petition signatures, the Auditor’s Office forwarded notice of the certification to Port Townsend City Hall.

“The city now has until Aug. 14 to submit an original resolution and ballot language to get this on the ballot by Nov. 6,” Cartmel said.

Port Townsend’s council-manager form of government has been in place since voters approved it in 1998.

Mayor Mark Welch opposes reverting back to a strong mayor-council form of government, saying the city needs a professional city manager

“If they have the signatures, it has to be decided by the people.

“It’s certainly a legitimate right of the people to vote on it – again.”

Said City Manager David Timmons, “If they are true to their statements that this is about the form of government, then it shouldn’t be about me.”

In a mayor-council form of government, an elected mayor serves as the city’s chief administrative officer and a council serves as the municipality’s legislative body.

While the council has the power to formulate and adopt city policies, the mayor is responsible for carrying them out, according to the Municipal Research and Services Center of Washington.

The mayor presides over council meetings, but does not vote on council business, except in the case of a tie-breaker.

Sheehan has owned a hotdog stand, Dogs A Foot, across the street from City Hall at the corner of Madison and Water streets, for 22 years and has lived in the city for 35 years.

He contends that the current form of government is too expensive and does not need a bureaucrat to run it.

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