Letters to the Editor

The real implications of Prop. 1 | LETTER TO THE EDITOR

To the editor:

I would like to ask my fellow Langley residents to vote no on Proposition 1.

Both sides have argued their points from emotional platforms with facts and numbers structured to support their view and heighten the emotional content of their argument, but neither side has 100 percent evidence to support their arguments.

The salary and cost issues alone have been a huge distraction and drawn the focus away from the heart of what the net effect of Prop. 1 will be. I want to focus on the ramifications of Prop. 1 for the voters of Langley.

For the voters of Langley the matter at hand is about the democratic process. It is about representing the voice of the community in government, in checks and balances and how often the people can strongly influence governance with their vote.

In our current form of government we have a strong office of mayor representing the executive branch and a city council representing the legislative.

Under our current system the council sets the agenda for council meetings, although they can choose to have the mayor set the agenda. The mayor presides over the council meetings and in turn the city council then votes upon agenda items both setting policy and instructing the mayor how to move forward on the agenda. The mayor can use a veto to oppose the council's vote on policy or the veto may be over ridden by the city council with a majority plus one vote. The mayor brings appointments of department heads and committee members before the city council who must vet and confirm these appointments.

The voters have an opportunity to vote each side of the checks and balances of this system by voting for each of these six elected positions.

The mayor can circumvent issues by use of a veto. It takes four votes from the council to override the mayor's veto.

Under the current system (although this year is an exception due to a resignation and appointments) three of the six elected seats come up for election every two years for election. The voters can significantly influence the direction of government every two years. In this system the checks and balances are clear and the voters have access to them every two years.

Supporters of Prop. 1 have presented a change from our current form of government to a system with a city council that hires a manager to operate the city and a Mayor that is either elected from the city council by the city council members or directly elected by the community to post of (councilman) mayor. I use the term councilman mayor to separate the difference in the two systems.

Either way he or she is elected under this system the  councilman mayor is in fact a council position much like our current mayor pro-tem.  Under this system five city council members (which includes the mayor) represent an unchecked legislative body. Under this system the mayor is a ceremonial position and does not have the ability to act as a true executive check to the legislative body because he or she votes in the council as a council member. The mayor doesn't have access to department heads. All department heads are appointed by the hired manager with no confirmation by the council.

The hired manager has no veto on the council. This system would in effect come down to three council members of the same political agenda running our government.

Under this system with five elected seats the voters would only be able to heavily influence their government every four years when three seats come up for election while two seats would come up at the two-year interim election.

A community like Langley with diverse opinions and points of view needs to have access to checks and balances and a government that must build consensus amongst its elected officials. If Langley had a more homogenous point of view or opinion on what Langley should be I could see an argument for the council manager form of government.

The group promoting this change are in effect limiting Langley residences access to government and additionally voters opportunity to influence their government. They are also trying eliminate the checks and balances of our current system.

If you strip away the emotional argument you see what is at stake. Vote no on Prop. 1.

David Gignac


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