King County Councilman Reagan Dunn wrote the following op-ed for the King County Journal last week (print only), affirming his support for an elected county elections auditor. The headline, "Politics delay citizen input on auditor", is diplomatic. It wasn't "politics" that delayed citizen input. It was self-serving Democrat politicians who don't want the citizens to decide who runs the elections office. But the citizens can uptrump the anti-democracy Democrats and force this through with a ballot measure before the Council would act. E-mail me if you would support such an initiative.
Politics delay citizen input on auditor.
by Reagan Dunn
In the last three years, the County Council and the County Executive have made significant investments to improve the King County's Elections Department. Progress has been made, but King County continues to ignore a vital step in the effort to restore public confidence in our elections system.
Last summer, outside committees established by both the Council and the Executive were working on in-depth investigations of the elections system. This spring, we received updates from those bipartisan committees, and both acknowledged that the elections section is on the right track, but that the elections section needed new leadership - an elected county auditor.
The majority of the members of the Citizen's Election Oversight Committee (CEOC) were clear in their recommendation, with Michael Snyder, the representative of the Washington State Democratic Party saying on March 6 of this year, "We want to increase the public accountability where we can. That's one of the reasons why a majority of our committee recommended having an elected elections director, to increase that accountability."
The members of the Executive's King County Independent Task Force on Elections were just as direct. In their February 28, 2006 final report to the Executive, the Task Force stated: "An official elected in a non-partisan race with a primary responsibility for conducting elections would increase accountability to citizens, be better able to educate and encourage citizens to participate fully in the electoral process, be a more effective advocate for improved technology and resources, and establishes an independent elections system."
In July, a bi-partisan majority of Councilmembers emerged supporting the legislation for creating the office of elected auditor. This was a great victory for those who support an elected auditor, since the legislation has languished in council since 2003. Unfortunately, for a variety of reasons the group accepted a compromise position establishing the office in 2009. Yesterday the Council passed legislation declaring that the King County Council will approve by June 1, 2009 an ordinance to submit a proposed charter amendment to King County voters concerning an elected county auditor and requesting recommendations from a charter review commission on the details of the new position.
With extended vacancies at the Director and the Superintendent Levels, the time to move forward with the elected auditor process should have been this year, in November 2006. If the Council would have acted this summer, elections' leadership would have been resolved by November 2007. Now, the citizens of King County will have to wait for accountability and stability in elections leadership until a much later date.
Still, those who support an elected auditor chosen by the people have reason to celebrate. You will have the choice in 2009. I know you will not forget. And, I promise that I will continue working on this issue.