Washougal voters have an important decision to make when their ballots arrive in the mail for the Nov. 5 General Election. It may, in fact, be one of the most important issues to appear on local ballots in recent history.
If approved, Proposition 1 would transition Washougal from its current mayor-council form of government to the vastly different council-manager system.
Currently, Washougal citizens have the right to elect a strong mayor, who is the chief executive officer of the city, along with seven city council members who form its legislative body. Washougal’s city administrator, appointed by the mayor and confirmed by the city council, carries out the day-to-day operations of the city.
Proposition 1 proponents would like to change the system so that there is an elected city council who makes policy and then also hires a city manager who is put in charge of administration. In council-manager cities, the mayor could be appointed by the city council from among its members. Alternately, one of the city council seats could be designated as the mayor position, although this person is a only ceremonial mayor and retains the same powers as a city councilor.
As a city, Washougal has certainly had its share of challenges. Those challenges reached their tipping point with the departure in 2009 of disgraced Mayor Stacee Sellers amid allegations of wrongdoing. However, since voters subsequently elected Mayor Sean Guard in November 2009, Washougal has been moving slowly, but steadily forward in a positive direction.