Langley changeover is worth a try | LETTER TO THE EDITOR
July 19, 2011 · 7:28 AM
To the editor:
I’m making a good faith effort to understand Proposition 1 as a citizen of a place I truly love — and finally I’ve seen a bit of light. We live in a charged political climate nationally and this polarization has unfortunately trickled down to our local system. Clearing that away as best I can, here’s what I see.
Democracy isn’t just a once-a-year vote for elected officials. Democracy isn’t just a chance to speak up in hearings. Democracy is the rule of law. It was invented by people who wanted to try to govern themselves, so they wrote a Constitution which is the supreme law of the land. They developed a system where “the people” via representatives can enact laws that, if they are constitutional, will be upheld by their leaders and interpreted by the courts and enforced by the law.
As I understand it, Prop. 1 suggests that we elect council members to represent us and we even elect a mayor who is a council member who fulfills the executive function.
Prop. 1 suggests adding to the mix a professional city manager who is trained to understand and interpret the law. What laws? The policies developed by the people of our fair city. The ordinances. The laws of the county, state and nation.
If any citizen doesn’t like a law, she can have redress: electing different lawmakers, attending public hearings, writing letters to the editor. We don’t have a high court, but we still need someone(s) to interpret the law and keep us legal.
Prop. 1 suggest we hire city managers to do this for us. He is, through the council, our employee. We don’t have to wait for an election to fire him. I, for one, would rather Langley have and follow laws, while still electing community members to make the laws and respond to “we the people” on a daily basis. We still get to elect the council, including the council seat called mayor. This too is what democracy looks like.
As someone who watches global trends as part of my profession, I also know that we are and will be feeling the effect even here in little Langley of economic, social and environmental forces generated far from our shores. We need wisdom to respond and sometimes wise choices are made better outside the political process. I suspect a combination of elected and professional leaders can help us make wise choices.
I also suspect managers who hopefully keep us legal are cheaper than lawyers who defend us when we are not. I wonder if more people would run for elected office if they didn’t have to learn the intricacies of legal code and could do what the people’s representatives do best — listen to all voices, lead ceremonies, facilitate meetings, keep good relations between business and government, encourage prosperity, set policies and in general be our voice.
No one is perfect. All systems, however well-designed, are only as good as the people who run them. Prop. 1 isn’t a guarantee of good governance, but it’s worth a try.