Say yes to a management pro

If ever a city cried out for professional management, it’s Lynnwood.

We’ve put forth that argument before. Now, voters can make it a reality by approving Lynnwood Proposition No. 1 on the fall ballot.

Prop. 1 would adopt a council/manager form of government for the city, eliminating the full-time, elected position of mayor in favor of a city manager hired by and answerable to the City Council.

We strongly recommend a “yes” vote.

Lynnwood has suffered through a decade of dysfunctional leadership, with consecutive mayors — Mike McKinnon and now Don Gough — sowing seeds of suspicion and distrust with staff and the City Council. The current budget mess, a fiscal disaster created by overspending and only made worse by the recession, is the most glaring result.

It’s apparent that Lynnwood doesn’t have a deep enough talent pool from which to draw effective mayoral candidates. Hiring a professional manager to act as the city’s chief executive is an alternative that already works well in several nearby cities, including Mountlake Terrace, Bothell, Mill Creek, Shoreline, Kirkland and Bellevue. Adopting Prop. 1 would immediately expand the city’s leadership talent pool far beyond the city limits.

The elected City Council would retain control over policy decisions. It would decide the priorities, and the city manager would carry them out. Council members would choose one of their own to serve as a largely ceremonial mayor — someone to run the council meetings and preside over official events.

It’s important to understand that approving Prop. 1 won’t automatically cure all that ails Lynnwood’s government. The budget problems will still have to be addressed. Disagreements will still arise, as they should. But moving forward, overt politics would be less likely to play a significant role in addressing challenges. Cooperation and accountability would have a better chance to become routine in a city where both have been in short supply.

Opponents argue that a hired manager will cost the city more than an elected mayor, which is true. In a competitive market, salaries for competent city managers run well into six figures.

Given what dysfunctional leadership has cost Lynnwood in recent years, it’s an investment that figures to pay for itself many, many times over.

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FILE — In this Sept. 17, 2020 file photo, provided by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, Chelbee Rosenkrance, of the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, holds a male sockeye salmon at the Eagle Fish Hatchery in Eagle, Idaho. Wildlife officials said Tuesday, Aug. 10, 2021, that an emergency trap-and-truck operation of Idaho-bound endangered sockeye salmon, due to high water temperatures in the Snake and Salomon rivers, netted enough fish at the Granite Dam in eastern Washington, last month, to sustain an elaborate hatchery program. (Travis Brown/Idaho Department of Fish and Game via AP, File)
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