Commission to begin work on possible county charter review

EVERETT – Fifteen men and women will gather Wednesday to begin reviewing the Snohomish County Charter and decide if they want to make any changes in it.

This will be the first meeting of the county’s Charter Review Commission whose members were elected by voters in November.

Each will be sworn in for an unpaid one-year term in which they will debate, propose and try to pass amendments to the charter which functions like a constitution for governing the county.

The 6:30 p.m. meeting will be in the County Council chambers on the eighth floor of the Administration Building in Everett. It is open to the public.

Reviewing the charter occurs once every 10 years. It is done by the commission, which is made up of three people from each of the five County Council districts.

Commissioners have wide latitude to suggest changes to the structure of county government laid out in 1979. That can include getting rid of certain elected offices or tinkering with department structures.

This year commissioners are likely to discuss increasing the number of County Council members from five to seven, making the council seats and executive’s job non partisan, and establishing guidelines for the ombudsman office in the charter as is done in King County.

Over a series of meetings and public hearings, commissioners will settle on proposed amendments to put on the ballot this November for voters to approve or reject.

John Koster, a former councilman and ombudsman for the county, will guide Wednesday’s meeting because he received the most votes of any commission candidate in the election.

He said he’s crafted an agenda that includes selecting a chairman and vice-chairman, setting meeting dates and discussing the $95,000 budget for the commission.

There will not be a lot of time to do this work. Proposed amendments are due to the Auditor’s Office by Aug. 2 in order to get on the ballot.

“We don’t have long,” Koster said.

Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623; jcornfield@heraldnet.com.

Who made it

The commission is comprised of three people from each County Council district. Here are the members:

District 1: John Koster, Raymond Miller, Jim Donner

District 2: Dan Matthews, Jennifer Gregerson, Shawn O’Donnell

District 3: Natalia Fior, Carin Chase, Marko Liias

District 4: Ed Barton, Cheryl Stanford, Bob Terwilliger

District 5: Kristin Kelly, Doug Roulstone, Wendy Valentine

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