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Bonney Lake city council approves change from ward system to at-large representation
For the first time ever, when Bonney Lake voters go to the polls this November, they will be able to vote for every city council position on the ballot.
After several weeks of discussion, the city council Tuesday night officially approved the change from an ward system of council representation to an all at-large council.
Only Councilmember Dan Decker voted against the measure.
Though there was no debate Tuesday, Decker said during prior discussions he supported the move to a full at-large council, but felt the city should put a change of that magnitude on the ballot for voters to decide.
The new system will be in place for this fall's election when four council seats will be on the ballot, including three that currently represent neighborhoods.
During discussions on the issue, councilmembers said they didn't think there was enough diversity among neighborhoods or ward-specific issues to warrant continuing the ward system. The majority of the council felt the vast majority of issues they deal with are city-wide issues and residents should have an opportunity to vote for all of the decision-makers in their city.
The council also hoped to spur increased involvement by allowing anyone in the city to run for any council position, though some worried that city-wide campaigns might be more expensive and therefore may deter some candidates.
Deputy mayor Dan Swatman, however, pointed out that his most recent ward campaign was more expensive to run than Councilmember Randy McKibbin's recent at-large campaign and said the cost of an election was due more to the candidates involved than the area of representation.
The change to an all at-large council also prevents the city from having to redraw wards when the city grows, saving staff time and money, according to the council.