Section 16 charter group is 'going good'
June 11, 2008 · Updated 10:58 AM
"Although gathering almost 8,000 signatures in less than three months is a daunting task, Citizens for Responsible Charter Government are upbeat about their effort to get a Section 16 home rule proposal on the ballot this fall.I think it's going good, CRCG spokesperson Ron Templeton said. I've had a lot of positive feedback from people about it.Another home rule proposal - Section 4 - has already qualified for the November ballot. Both would restructure local government, but while Section 4 would be limited only to county government, Section 16 could simultaneously restructure city governments and junior taxing districts.CRCG, which supports Section 16 charter, must gather nearly 8,000 signatures by Aug. 7 to qualify for the November ballot. Templeton was unsure Monday of exactly how many signatures CRCG has gathered. Templeton said signature gatherers have been confronted with misconceptions about Section 16 having too much power. He said the charter option is an opportunity for offices to consolidate and save tax money. I'm a little surprised about the negative feedback we have received, Templeton said.Jim Martin, chairman of the pro-Section 4 Home Rule Committee, said Section 16 would subordinate existing municipal offices and create a city-county government in Kitsap County.Martin suspects the Section 16 effort is motivated by county officials fearful of losing power. It's purely diversional (Section 16 movement), Martin said. It's all about the balance of power.Martin said Section 4 charter would keep local offices independent of each other and allow them to deal directly with constituents, while Section 16 would create a city of Kitsap County.Bremerton Mayor Lynn Horton, whose city could be heavily impacted by Section 16, said she favors Section 4 charter. She said local offices and junior taxing authorities already are starting to work together without a Section 16 mandate.Things work out better when they are not forced, Horton said.When you get to this level, you realize you just have to go with the flow, Horton added. The debate is healthy. The voters will decide.King, Pierce, Snohomish, Whatcom and Clallam counties have reorganized under Section 4; no counties have reorganized under Section 16.Despite the differences of their proposals, both Martin and Templeton said charter government is an opportunity not to be missed. Martin thinks it will give Kitsap County more clout in regional affairs.We would be on par with all the other regional counties, Martin said. I see a direct path to higher wages in Kitsap County (with a county charter).Both also agreed that progress will not come easily and that no outcome will satisfy everyone. All the better, said Martin, who likens the debate over the county charter to the United States developing its Constitution.Consensus is always a battle, Martin said. But look at the fine document that came out of that."