Resistance to Silverdale cityhood forming

Last time Jerry VanFossen and other residents organized a group to publicly speak against Silverdale cityhood. This time, he continues to be vocal on his opinions against incorporating Silverdale, but isn’t organizing a concentrated effort — yet.

Citizens United for Silverdale, the committee pushing for incorporation, has six months to gather signatures from registered voters who live within the proposed city’s boundaries. They need to gather at least 10 percent of signatures — about 950 — from the area in order for the measure to be on the ballot for spring 2012, which is what they are planning for. They will kick off gathering signatures at 9 a.m. July 9, meeting at All Star Lanes in Silverdale followed by going door-to-door in neighborhoods.

“If they do get that 10 percent, then we’ll have to make some sort of organization to oppose it,” VanFossen said Tuesday.

VanFossen has been living in the area for 38 years. Prior to a Boundary Review Board public meeting on incorporation last month, he went around his Bucklin Hill neighborhood distributing fliers stating why he thinks incorporation is not a good idea. He doesn’t think another layer of government is necessary. Taxes will have to increase, he said, to pay for all the necessities in running a city including paying council members and contracting out services such as the fire department.

With help from his grandson, VanFossen distributed 85 fliers and talked to about 20 people.

“Most of them are saying, ‘We beat them once, we’ll beat them again,’” he said.

The last time a vote for incorporation went to residents was in February 2000. The effort before that was in September 1985, said Dolores Gilmore, elections manager with the county Auditor’s Office.

VanFossen also thinks there are a few “politically motivated individuals” on the committee, which he stated in his distributed flier as well as to the review board at the public meeting.

“Take a look at all the people on it, they have businesses. I think they have some motivation,” VanFossen said. “It’s my personal opinion.”

Marcus Hoffman, spokesman for the committee, confirmed that some of the committee members are business owners in Silverdale but that it has no relation or personal benefits to their efforts for supporting incorporation.

“You could go through the list of committee members and find something to throw at them,” Hoffman said. “These people are doing it to serve our community, volunteering for a year plus.”

Although VanFossen has his mind made up on how he feels about incorporation, there are others like Monnet Cummings, who do not know how they will vote should they get that chance.

Cummings has been living on Ridgetop since 1989 and thinks that Silverdale could develop an identity and sense of community through cityhood, but she has some reservations. She is worried that committee members are too politically-oriented.

“My dilemma is the committee members are right-wing Republicans and I’m a Democrat so I wonder what it’s all about,” she said.

Hoffman said committee members are made up of political backgrounds across the board and that they do not lean one way or another. Hank Mann-Sykes, for instance, is a Democrat.

Committee members hope the future Silverdale city will continue to be non-partisan, Hoffman added.

“It’s a non-partisan group that will run the city, so what’s the partisan concern?” he said.

Committee members have proposed a Silverdale city government to be operated under a non-partisan seven member council with a professional manager, which is the model that other recent incorporated cities have used, Hoffman said.

VanFossen hopes committee members will address specifics on how incorporation will benefit residents as they plan for public meetings in their six-month window. Forming a group to oppose incorporation isn’t his main goal. It’s getting the facts on incorporation — both good and bad — to residents.

“It’s not a matter of organization. It’s a matter of educating the people,” VanFossen said.

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