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Civics 101 Washington Local Government

Civics 101 Washington Local Government. February 4, 2019 – Judy Zeider – League of Women Voters of Clark County. “ “All Politics Is Local”. Local government directly impacts us Local government easier to access Local government easier to influence. Four Key “Take Always” for Today.

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Civics 101 Washington Local Government

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  1. Civics 101Washington Local Government February 4, 2019 – Judy Zeider – League of Women Voters of Clark County

  2. ““All Politics Is Local” • Local government directly impacts us • Local government easier to access • Local government easier to influence

  3. Four Key “Take Always” for Today • What are the basics of local government structure and functions? • What is my political “home?” (Who are my elected officials?) • What is their role? And tools? • How can I influence local decision-making?

  4. Four Basic Types Local Government In Washington • Counties • Cities • Towns • Special Purpose Districts

  5. QUICK COMPARISON COUNTIES CITIES Created by vote of residents Focus primarily urban services within own boundaries • Created by state legislature • Provide basic services to unincorporated areas • Provide regional services

  6. REVENUE SOURCES/OPTIONSMORE VARIED FOR CITIES • Tax allocations formulas – e.g. sales tax, property tax • Common revenue sources – e.g. property taxes, lodging taxes, real estate excise tax • Cities but not counties may charge certain taxes – examples • Business and Occupation Taxes • Business licensing fees • Utility taxes

  7. COUNTY FORMS OF GOVERNMENT • Commission • Home Rule

  8. Commission Form • Standard form of county government • 3-5 five County Commissioners • Partisan basis for election • Serve in both legislative and executive roles – i.e. “plural executive” form

  9. COUNTY HOME RULE • 1948 State Constitutional Home Rule Amendment • Home rule counties in Washington: Clallam, Clark (adopted 2015), King, Pierce, Snohomish, and Whatcom • Key: More local control over local issues • Structure of local government • Matters of local concern

  10. COUNTY HOME RULE = LOCAL OPTIONS • Choose who is “CEO” and how selected • Hired County Manager (e.g. Clark County) • Elected County Executive (e.g. King County) • Elected councilors as legislative body • One elected chair of council • May be partisan or nonpartisan • Local option initiative and referendum


  12. County Elected Officers • County Commissioners or Councilors • County Auditor • County Assessor • County Treasurer • County Sheriff • County Prosecutor • County Clerk • Judges – Superior and District Courts


  14. TOWNS IN WASHINGTON • 68 towns at present time • Population of less than 1500 when formed • Yacolt – only town in Clark County • Only powers granted by legislature • No new towns may be formed

  15. FORMS OF CITY GOVERNMENT MAYOR-COUNCIL FORM • Most common form in Washington (227 cities) • Elected mayor – CEO / Executive • Veto – “Strong” • No veto – “Weak” • Council – Legislative body • At large or by district • May override mayor veto, if has one

  16. FORMS OF CITY GOVERNMENT COUNCIL/MANAGER FORM OF GOVERNMENT • 54 Cities in Washington • Council – Legislative body • Mayor – Legislator + Presiding Officer • Professional city manager • “CEO” of city • Council and mayor may not interfere • Council and mayor may remove

  17. FORMS OF CITY GOVERNMENT Commission form of city government • Popular in early 20th century • Commissioners: legislator/administrators-rolled into-one • No more in state - Shelton last (until 2017) • Examples: Portland and most counties



  20. SPECIAL PURPOSE DISTRICTS • Limited local governments separate from a city, town, or county government. • Generally single or limited function • But provide a WIDE array of services

  21. INTERLOCAL COOPERATION • Agreements between/among public agencies for services or facilities • Examples in Clark County : • Animal Control services • Fire / Emergency Medical • Courts • Water/sewer regional agreements

  22. HOW TO FIND YOUR POLITICAL HOME • POSTAL ADDRESS MAY NOT EQUAL POLITICAL JURISDICTION! • MyVote - https://weiapplets.sos.wa.gov/myvote/#/login • Clark County Property Information Center - https://gis.clark.wa.gov/gishome/property/index.cfm? • Do you live in Vancouver? https://www.cityofvancouver.us/ourcity/page/do-you-live-or-work-city-vancouver

  23. OPEN GOVERNMENT WASHINGTON • Open Public Meetings Act • Public Records Act • Mandatory public hearings under many laws

  24. MANY WAYS TO ENGAGE • Attend or watch public meetings e.g. CVTV https://www.cvtv.org/ • Volunteer e.g. Vancouver Police Neighbors on Watch (NOW) https://www.cityofvancouver.us/police/page/neighbors-watch-now-program • Connect online – agendas, agency newsletters, etc. • Take an agency survey • Speak out • Join others – e.g. Neighborhood Association • VOTE!

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