Returning the Voice of the Voters – Bellevue has a communication problem. Recently steps have been taken to shut the voters voice out of how our city is run. From removing the speaking time at the end of City Council Meetings to the City Council taking upon itself the right to remove an elected Councillor the voice of the voter has been disenfranchised. To be fair this isn’t all on the Council. I’d agree that at times the speaking time has been abused but this is often a result of an untended lack of transparency from our city government. As with all professionals sometimes we put information out in the way it makes the most sense to us, not necessarily our audience. After having met with several members of our city government department staff I have no doubt that the ability and interest to serve our city is there but they need some assistance from us as citizens to do our research and to work with them on how we need transparency from our city. Having given some of that feedback I can absolutely confirm it was received with a great deal of interest and follow up.
The decision to go down the trail of the Council being able to remove a member was the intersection of a tough issue meeting obviously bad optics. If anything the request for the Council to have the right to make that decision should have gone to the voters. There should have been a question on the next ballot regarding voters giving the Council the OK to discipline a member up to removal. There was no emergency to do this that required an immediate decision (as of this date despite all the headlines the authority has not been used) regarding the removal of a sitting elected official. In the face of that lack of emergency there is no need to interfere with the voters ability to exercise the right of recall. I’ll leave it to our voters (and I would like to hear your thoughts) if the effort is worth it to re-open the wound that this process caused to rescind the decision but this was one more ugly self inflicted headline that Bellevue endured over the last several years. I’d like to have a city with a lot more voter voice and a lot less headlines about our leaders unpaid fines, permit trials, condemned properties, and overall inappropriateness.
For our City to be successful we need our leaders to respect the Voice of the Voters and remember at the end of the day they serve at our pleasure. On the flip side we as citizens of a community have a responsibility to not just raise our voice but to raise it after we’ve researched the issue and confirmed we actually understand it. By doing so we each show our respect for the other and the assumption that even if we disagree we each do so with the best interests of our community at heart. If we do this we can’t be stopped.