Yakima City Council Votes to Put Strong Mayor On February Ballot
By a vote of 4 to 3 the Yakima City Council voted Tuesday night to put a Yakima Charter change on the February ballot. The proposed change would eliminate the council appointed city manager to run the day to day operations of the city and replace that position with an elected mayor, chosen by city voters.
The idea is to put the person who controls the operational aspects of the city directly responsible to the voters. The seven council districts would remain the same and would council representatives would continue to be the legislative and policy makers for the city.
A council president would be chosen among the council members just as the mayor is now and that person would run city meetings.
More than 30 people spoke and three quarters of them were against the idea of putting the organizational change on the ballot. They cited the fear and cost of another ACLU lawsuit, dilution of the Latinx vote, the undoing of progress made by the ACLU case, and in the end as tempers rose, the affair took on an unfortunate racial overtone of "them-versus-us". "Them" being established, older, white folks who stand accused holding down and short changing east-side Latinos, And "us" being long suffering, under represented and underserved Latinos.
Councilwoman Mendez's final statement was "we can't let them win" I like Carmen but I believe she sees this through eyes clouded by emotions and in my opinion,incomplete and incorrect information, which by the way was also driving most of the dissenters.
On the one hand a number of young activists showed up and delivered amazingly well written and coordinated speeches. It's good to see youthful involvement. On the other hand, the bulk of the harsh language and superficial talking points were presented by them in what was clearly an organized effort. It remains to be seem if the youth coalition, complimented for turning out, will hang together to promote a "no" vote in the campaign to come.
In the end Representatives Cousens, Coffey, White & Hill were the YES votes. Gutierrez, Mendez and Funk voted no.
Now the campaign begins and we'll bring you the opinions and arguments from both sides in the weeks to come.