Jim Cooper & Nathaniel Jones, Olympia’s longest serving councilmembers, say it is past time for Olympia to consider fundamental changes to city government.
Thirty-seven years ago, in 1982, Olympians voted to change from a 3 member City Commission to a 7 member Council-Manager form of government. The hot, new technology was the fax machine. Before the internet...and way before mobile phones. John Spellman was Governor. Rents were about $300. Back in the day, Olympia was an up-and-coming little city, about the size of present-day Issaquah.
Does Olympia want an appointed City Manager, or should we elect a strong Mayor? Should each Councilmember be elected by the whole city, or should we create districts for better representation? Should the City Prosecutor be elected or appointed? How many Councilmembers should there be? Is there a better way?
All of these questions are prime for a community conversation. The time is now. In this age of instant communication, our citizens feel unheard -- our city government feels removed from the people. We must do better, and improving how our government works is the key to a functional democracy.
To that end, Cooper & Jones ask that an interim City Manager be named, but we not move forward with a replacement process until the council and community have done their due diligence by answering these basic questions. The citizens of Olympia deserve an opportunity to determine the future of their government.
Big, structural change begins right here in Olympia. The time is now.