Snohomish passes strong-mayor measure by 9 votes

SNOHOMISH — After 45 years with a strong-council government, people in Snohomish can expect a change in how the city is run.

Proposition 2, a measure that sought a transition to a strong-mayor form of government, passed by nine votes.

Final election results showed that 50.1 percent were in favor. The Snohomish County Auditor’s Office counted a total of 4,445 ballots cast by Snohomish voters.

The measure was failing by two votes Nov. 17. One day later, it was passing by four. Once it took the lead, the measure hung on by a slim margin. The election results were scheduled to be certified Tuesday afternoon.

“I’m extremely disappointed. We’ve had so many good years, 45 good years in the city with professional management,” Snohomish Mayor Karen Guzak said. “The city is doing really well.”

Committee members supporting the proposition did not immediately offer comment Tuesday.

Local measures are not subject to automatic recounts if the results are close. However, supporting and opposing parties can request a recount. The requester would be responsible for the cost, which could be a couple of thousand dollars.

A recount would take about a week and a half to two weeks, Snohomish County Auditor Carolyn Weikel said.

Guzak is considering a recount, she said.

Parties have two business days once the ballots are certified to submit a recount request.

More than 9 percent of those who cast general election ballots in Snohomish did not vote on the proposition. That amounts to 417 voters.

The Snohomish City Council has scheduled a special meeting for Dec. 5 to talk about next steps.

A special election to choose a new mayor is scheduled for February. If more than two people run, the February election will be a primary followed by a final election in April, Guzak said.

The new strong mayor is set to take office in May.

As things stand now, Guzak would no longer be mayor. She would resume her role as a City Council member for the remaining three years of her term.

The city manager position held by Larry Bauman is expected to be dissolved the day the mayor is sworn in. This position handles day-to-day operations.

The mayor and city administrator positions would replace the city manager role.

A strong mayor would have a stronger legislative role within the government, as well as veto power. He or she also would be responsible for appointing department heads. The day-to-day operations would be delegated to the city administrator.

“The topmost role and responsibility is to govern and we will do that,” Guzak said.

Caitlin Tompkins: 425-339-3192; ctompkins@heraldnet.com.

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