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Citizens should be able to use the initiative process | Letter
My strong support for Initiative 517 stems from the experience I had sponsoring the first initiative in Redmond city history: LET THE VOTERS DECIDE ON RED-LIGHT CAMERAS.
In 2011, volunteers collected enough signatures to easily qualify the measure for the ballot. Rather than submit the signatures to the county for validation as required by law, the city decided to sit on them. (A Superior Court judge later ruled that the city should have turned the signatures in for validation).
Based on our initiative campaign, the City Council voted unanimously to reverse its endorsement of the red-light camera program and instead terminated the contract with the red-light camera company. The cameras have since been removed from the City of Redmond.
This is the happy ending the citizens of Redmond hoped for, right?
While it is true that our campaign was successful in accomplishing our ultimate goal of killing the program, my experience taught us that the municipal initiative process is seriously flawed. When a city controls the validation process and has the legal resources to block a measure from going to the ballot, an initiative sponsor faces too much uncertainty to take on the task. This kills citizen activism.
Redmond would still have the horrible ticketing program the public overwhelmingly despised if I had known in 2011 what I now know about the dysfunctional municipal initiative process. I simply never would have started the initiative campaign in the first place.
Unless I-517 passes, the municipal initiative tool is dead.
I support I-517 because I want to make sure no one else will ever have to go through the same obstruction I did. Without I-517, Redmond’s initiative process will be available in theory, but not in practice.
Redmond’s forefathers included the right to the initiative process in the city charter, but only with I-517 will local citizens actually be able to use it.
Please vote yes on Initiative 517.
Scott Harlan, Redmond