For some time now, it’s been quite clear that a change is needed in Clark County government. An opportunity has been presented to the public to do so, and it’s time for voters to seize it.
The home rule charter is a thoughtfully crafted document developed during the course of several months by an elected group of 15 Freeholders. They worked through topics ranging from separation of powers and initiative and referendum to whether the county administrator should be appointed or elected.
The final document, approved by a majority of the Freeholders, represents their efforts to create a more effective Clark County government. If approved by a simple majority of voters on Nov. 4, the charter will do just that. These changes will have positive results for both citizens and county employees.
The charter calls for the current three-member commission to shift to a five-member council, providing citizens with much-needed broader representation while also reducing the elected officials’ salaries. The voters in each of four districts will elect their own representative in the primary and general elections, while an at-large chairperson will be elected by the entire county.
The charter also calls for a separation of the legislative and administrative responsibilities, creating a very clear line between these two very different functions.
This particular element of the home rule charter has been the subject of a significant amount of debate. What creating a five member elected county council with an appointed county manager does is give a logical structure to how government operates. The council sets policy, while the county manger handles day-to-day operations. The idea that this somehow makes government less accessible and less responsive is not accurate.
The format proposed by the charter is similar to how the Camas City Council operates. As anyone who has attended a Camas City Council meeting knows, its elected members most definitely have a voice for their constituents, and possess the power to have any questions or concerns addressed. The process is simply guided by protocols and procedures that make sense.
In the end, the charter that is on the Nov. 4 ballot is a document that will lead Clark County government onto a more steady and stable path than the one it has been experiencing in recent years.
It’s a path that voters would be wise to support.