What is the charter movement?
Home Rule Skagit proposes a charter that will address county issues more effectively through:
A charter can create a 5-9 person part-time county council. Instead of three full-time commissioners serving district which span large swaths of the county, a county council would more accurately represent the islands, farming community, towns and cities, foothills and upriver communities, ensuring that all residents, rural and urban, can be heard.
A democracy works best when citizens have good access to elected officials. A part-time council could meet in the evening, allowing more people to attend and participate. True transparency takes place when elected officials explain their reasoning and citizens can learn about the positions behind the decisions being made.
The foundation of American democracy is the separation of legislative and executive powers, which provides clearly defined roles and responsibilities. Yet currently, commissioners are responsible for both functions, and no one can be held accountable. Under a charter government, a council can develop programs and policies and an appointed for elected executive can execute them.
Why change the form of Skagit County government now?
Skagit County is still growing at a rapid rate, with a diversifying economy and population, and we face complex challenges – we have simply outgrown the outdated County Commissioner system. The current system is not accountable to taxpayers, and is hampered by:
A quorum of two
With a three commissioner system, any two of them constitute a quorum – just two commissioners’ votes are needed even for major decisions.3
Combined legislative and executive functions
Currently our commissioners serve as the policy setters, lawmakers and administrators. Some of this work is delegated or shared among officers, department heads and other staff. Nonetheless, the power and responsibility is concentrated at the top, with little in the way of checks and balances. The commissioners even play a quasi-judicial role, deciding land use appeals.
Too much concentrated power and responsibility
There is too much for the commissioners to oversee and to keep track of. This fosters poor accountability and a lack of coherence in the decision-making process. The sheer volume of business that the commissioners must conduct tends to stifle creativity and new initiatives, and produces a cumbersome government that is slow to respond.
Who Supports a Charter?
Jill Boudreau, Mount Vernon Mayor
Liz Lovelett, Anacortes City Council Member
“Governance is stronger with a clear division of legislative and executive duties. A county charter provides a path forward for a three-branch system.”
Dale Ragan, small business owner, former Mount Vernon City Council member
“Every long-term successful business, large and small, periodically reviews its every process. If they don’t, they typically end up on the junk pile of failed businesses. The same should be done by our governmental entities… The charter will put a modern approach in place.”
Sharon Dillon, small business owner, former County Commissioner and former Mayor of Sedro-Woolley
“The best change the charter will bring about is a 5-9 member County Council, so representation for the whole county will be more diversified.
Good decisions come from people who have different ideas working to understand each other, learn from each other and our constituents.
The Latino community needs to have a bigger voice and be more engaged, they are such a huge part of our county. Many have lived here a long time; immigrants bring their history and culture, and they bring change. Change is always good: we become stronger people.”