Elections by Wards/Districts on Agenda for Tonight’s City Council Meeting

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We’ve been alerted that at tonight’s Burien City Council meeting (7 p.m. at City Hall, 400 SW 152nd Street) there may be a lively discussion on the proposed “districting” of the city for future city council elections.

“Dividing a city into wards or districts is authorized by RCW 35A.12.180 as long as it is done three months prior to a municipal general election,” reads a note in the packet. “If the City of Burien wants to pursue this initiative this year, the City must file the ordinance requesting special election with King County Elections Office by May 10.”

The note goes on to say:

“There is no requirement for a public vote on the matter.”

As is the case with all city council meetings, Public Comments are allowed at the beginning of the session; individuals are limited to three minutes, while groups get five.

As many of our Readers may recall, on Feb. 15 we published a Letter to the Editor from Debi Wagner, which first brought this issue to our attention. In that letter, Wagner expressed her concern about why Burien was even considering districting.

It’s item “c” on the Business Agenda in tonight’s packet (download full PDF here):

a. Motion on Naming the 2013 Annual Citizen(s) of the Year Award Recipient(s).
b. Discussion of and Possible Action on Proposed Harbor Urban Alternative Development for Town Square Including Available Options.
c. Discussion on City Council Election by Wards/Districts.
d. Discussion on and Possible Motion to Adopt Ordinance No. 577, Relating to Property Donation.
e. Discussion of the South County Area Transportation Board Agreement Extension for 2013.
f. Review of Council Proposed Agenda Schedule.

Here’s a map that shows existing voting precincts, populations, and where current councilmembers live (NOTE: the council  has not even decided whether to pursue any  change to council districts; click image to see larger version):


Here’s what Nhan Nguyen, Management Analyst for the city, wrote in the agenda:

The purpose of this agenda item is to present to Council information for its discussion of Washington State’s election laws and best practices related to City Council election by wards/districts.

BACKGROUND (Include prior Council action & discussion):
At the February 4 Council meeting, Council directed staff to research the subject of Council election by wards/districts and to present the findings at the February 25 Council meeting.

Dividing a city into wards or districts is authorized by RCW 35A.12.180 as long as it is done three months prior to a municipal general election. If the City of Burien wants to pursue this initiative this year, the City must file the ordinance requesting special election with King County Elections Office by May 10. There is no requirement for a public vote on the matter.

To start, Council must decide how many districts it wants to establish and whether it wants any at-large positions. The bulk of the work in establishing a ward/district system would be in determining district boundaries. RCW 35A.12.180 provides that “The representation of each ward in the city council shall be in proportion to the population as nearly as is practicable.” Generally this means each district should be plus or mius 5 percent of the average. Cities can use census blocks or voting precincts to create districts, neither can be broken apart. Census blocks or voting precincts within districts should be contiguous. The districts should to the degree possible coincide with natural boundaries and existing communities, provided that population’s proportion is maintained.

RCW 35A.12.180 also provides that the change to district boundaries will not affect the term of any current councilmember. In other words, councilmembers whose terms have not expired will serve out of their existing terms. The statute further provides that if a district is being represented by more councilmembers than the number to which it is entitled, then those with the shortest unexpired terms shall be assigned by the Council to districts where there is a vacancy. A district candidate can run for City Council as long as he/she is a resident of that district on the date of his/her election. District candidates will be voted on by voters in their districts during the primary and by all voters in the City during the general election. However, he/she must resign from the office if he/she no longer resides in the district he/she represents. If that occurs, the remaining members of the governing body appoint a qualified person to fill the vacant position.

Districts must be reviewed upon the publication of each federal, decennial census to ensure they are proportionate to the population as nearly as practical. If they are not, the City would take steps to redraw the district boundaries.

OPTIONS (Including fiscal impacts): Direct staff as Council’s wishes.

We’re wondering…what do YOU think of the idea of breaking Burien into wards/districts? Please leave your Comment below…

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28 Responses to “Elections by Wards/Districts on Agenda for Tonight’s City Council Meeting”
  1. May says:

    They make everything so complexed that the citizens of Burien need to hire a lawyer and remove and clean up this council. This is so serious that by the time everything is said and done, there is no way to get out of anyrthing. The citizens will be stuck with this mess.

    What does Gold Bar, Wa. (article in the seattle times) and Burien have in common?
    ……………Aaron Reardon.

    Please look on the internet and read articles about the mess in Gold Bar and what happened there.

    Anne Block saw the corruption in Gold Bar and she is one smart lady.

    Aaron Reardon is a friend of the Wallace. The Wallace family had a picture of him on Facebook.com and removed it. Here again I saw it.

    They even donated to his campaign in 2011. Wallace is friends of Reagand Dunn (McBee). Ch2M Hill (Maiya Andrews) the company she worked for donated too.

    Steve McBee and wife Jennifer Noland (Hired city of burien lobbyist) donated too.
    We have some serious trouble in the City of Burien.

    These people want to overthrow everything. This is very troublesome.

    Please copy and paste and you can look at the companies that donated to him.

    • PJ says:


      Now that is a conspiracy theory for the record books (lol)…

      • May says:

        Your comment just shows your ignorance…To understand what I am saying takes pretty smart individuals…..and the smart individuals know what is going on. You can call it conspiracy theories but I call it “corruption”. Anne Block knows the truth too…that is why Aaron Reardon resigned….because finally they know people are on to them.
        And by the way,,,,it is because of people like you the Burien council is in the state it is in.
        Ignorant people just let everything slide.

        • PJ says:

          why is it when you have someone that doesn’t agree with you, or questions your logic (or lack there of) you have to call names and belittle???? What does anything that is going on in Snohomish County have to do with Burien?

          • May says:

            It all has to do with connections. Who knows who and who are your friends and who are you working with.

            Anne Block (Gold Bar) is right when she said….”the real thugs are beginning to fall”

            She had no use for Aaron Reardon and all his so called friends.

            If you put the dots together, you will find out who his friends are. I gave you a list to show you who donated to him..

            This list shows you the donations from the Bennett, Wallace, McBee, Construction companies and a name of a person where Mike Martin used to rent or own.

            It is all connected.

            This district voting is just more of their shananigans. What this council is doing is very dangerous and they are pretending there is noone to consider then themselves. Who is paying them and who are they working for?……..

            I think this is so outrages…..these people took over control of everything. They even removed the vidoes onlline so you can’t look back over the meetings.

            This is what I call “dirty business”.

  2. TcB says:

    Please everyone, look up ” strawman sockpuppet”
    I believe this “may” just be what this is all about…

    • jimmy says:

      ahh iam glad iam not only one that notice this

    • john poitras says:

      Tish all you are about apparently is attacking people rather than offering your thoughts on the subject at hand. Please stop with your constant sniping before Scott closes this thread for excessive flaming and you ruin it for everyone.

      On topic.. I see no cogent reason to change the electoral process that has worked in Burien since it was originally incorporated. No reason has been given and it does not pass the smell test for me because this would all be done behind closed doors..

  3. Mike says:

    Jack, Lucy and Bob could walk out like rosé and Robison did on November 19.

  4. Bonnie says:

    Granted we have some problems but dreaming up conspiracy theories is not going to help.

  5. David says:

    These folks on either side have forgotten they are here to serve the needs of the people as a whole. They have all shown signs of self-interest in one way or another. If the re-districting were to occur our votes as citizens will not be equal from one area to another. In a city of 48,000 that is a sad commentary on the state of affairs here. We need to use the given powers we have and elect individuals worthy of serving this great community.

    • Shari says:

      Is there a reason that some of the proposed wards/districts are more or less “square” and others are convoluted (horseshoes, Vs, etc)? I understand that they can follow precincts and natural boundaries and some qualitative sense of existing community, but some of these proposed districts seem to have been drawn oddly if those are the criteria. I’m not an urban planner, so I am naive on all of this, but I struggle with seeing how a horseshoe or inverted V shape describes a cohesive community without it being about excluding whoever lives in the middle? Can somebody here better informed on this help me understand the delineation?

      • Shari says:

        Talking to myself. I just now see that what I thought was a horseshoe is actually an L and the other arm is a separate district…so to quote Emily LItella, Never Mind!

    • Eaton B Verz says:

      “These folks on either side have forgotten they are here to serve the needs of the people as a whole. They have all shown signs of self-interest in one way or another.”

      Well said David

  6. Linda says:

    This proposal to change the electoral process to wards when what we have had in Burien for over 30 years has worked just fine is a perfect example of an attempt to Texify Burien through gerrymandering because a certain council member is afraid if he lets the democratic process take its course it will not work our the way he wants it to.
    Someone should contact the Seattle times and tell them about this because this story is a lot bigger than not allowing public boating on Lake Burien.

    • Chris says:

      So, let’s clear some things up with what you said. First, you mention “…what we have had in Burien for over 30 years has worked just fine…” Uh, Burien has only been an incorporated city of 17-18 years now. Before that–well it was just another area of unincorporated King County. So not sure where you were going with that comments. Second, you mention gerrymandering, but give no basis as to how electoral districts/wards/areas would create that type of situation. If done in a balanced way, districts or wards could work. I’m not advocating for such, and I’m not convinced Burien needs this type of set-up, but claiming gerrymandering when a framework of the political subdivisions hasn’t even been presented yet is somewhat extreme.

      Lastly, you throw out the red herring in the end about Lake Burien for no reason at all, then include the bit about “public boating,” Pretty lame. So you know, IF there was every an opportunity for a park on Lake Burien and IF a private property owner chose to sell to the City of Burien, and IF the area met the requirements of a pocket park, then MAYBE a very limited use park could go on Lake Burien. Read the SMP and other planning documents, as it discusses limited boat/swimming/etc. access to the lake.

      • Linda says:

        Chris.. If you are going to correct someone. Do the math accurately at least.
        I misspoke.
        Burien was incorporated in 1993 feb.
        That means Burien has been a city for 20 years exactly.

        I have lived in a gerrymandered state and this is exactly how it starts. Do you really understand how this works? I suggest you check it out for yourself because when this kind of change is pushed through in a rush as in this case without public input, right before an election it gives the appearance of impropriety and in this case gerrymandering and promoting cronyism.
        It rarely serves the cause of promoting democracy. The former major Sally Nelson spoke at the council meeting and said as much. I think I am going to give her opinion a lot more weight than yours as its based on actual real life knowledge of this process. Trying to institute a change like this in the electoral process without vote by the residents and just before 4 council members come up for election does NOT pass the smell test.

        You call the Lake Burien issue a “red herring”?? Apparently you did not read the article that was full of half truths and misinformation perpetrated by Mr Moyer that showed up on the front page of the Seattle Times! Mr Moyer has been pushing for public access to Lake Burien so he can set up a boat rental service for years. This flies in the face of the multiple Environment Impact Reports that have nixed this idea of public access to the Lake other than for viewing. Apparently you are not up to speed on this issue. The fact that this one sided story showed up on the front page of the Seattle Times when at best its an editorial page story is the point I was making that you missed. On the other hand the redistricting story which has all the makings of an attempt at the Texification of the city of Burien is real news that actually belongs on the front page of the Seattle Times.

        • Chris says:

          Hey, I indeed stand corrected on the incorporation date. My bad on that one. I’ve lived in this area my whole life, and I knew that it was 1993–I simply had ’95 stuck in my mind for some odd reason.

          To the topic on hand….

          Let me be crystal clear. I do NOT currently support subdividing the city into council districts. With that, if–through analysis and study, and through a robust citizen input process–the citizens would like to have their council elected that way, then YES it might work. What I object to is the constant barrage of attacks by conspiracy theorists who think that the council is “out to get” them (or all the citizens. No councilmember in their right mind who even attempt to push through legislation that would create districts. I’ve read all the council packets, attended meetings, watched the videos, talked with some in the city government. So far, I don’t get the impression of gerrymandering by ANYONE. The city staff was directed to look into the issue, and they did. We’ll see what happens from here on out. Unless you have facts and evidence to support otherwise, I can’t get behind your gerrymandering stance.

          And as far as Lake Burien goes. I’m done wasting my breath. A park may happen someday (given the right circumstances), and I doubt highly that a freaking BOAT SERVICE would be allowed on the lake. Give me a break. lol…

          • May says:

            What I object to is the constant barrage of attacks by conspiracy theorists who think that the council is “out to get” them (or all the citizens.


            What conspiracy theorists? ….there is NO conspiracy theory………If you do research you will find there are connections to all people that I talk about.

          • Linda says:

            Chris you are correct, there is as yet no evidence of gerrymandering and perhaps in trying to prevent this from becoming an issue I may have put the cart before the horse.
            I think we are actually pretty much on the same page and perhaps my mistrust for Mr Robison and the lack of transparency called for in RCW 35.A alarmed me enough to put a negative spin on my post.
            I actually intended it to be more of a warning than a fait accompli. I guess I just wanted to nip it in the bud before it bit us all in the behind.

    • May says:

      Linda, you are right. This story is alot bigger then anyone can imagine.
      It is a spider web a hunderd times over. I have been working on this for a long time.

      It is very complex and there are only a “few” people that are making themselves very rich while the others are paying for it.

      It has to do with council members that are hiring their friends. These people are moving around to other councils and get hired once they lose a job in one place.

      They change documents and do pretty much whatever they want once all their friends are on board. This is a terrrible situation.

  7. Carol Vernon says:

    Simple, staightforward question to the Council re: district voting for Burien: Why?

    • Eaton B Verz says:

      One reason Robison gave was that the Latino community was underrepresented. I do believe that considering race is illegal. I doubt the Fantastic Four care. Throw the race card out there and see how it plays. Typical…….

  8. TcB says:

    I’ll just post this link again…http://archive.fairvote.org/media/documents/City_Council_Manual.pdf

    Gerrymandering is a worry with SMP (Single Member District – Plurality) which is what I think is being proposed. This link shows some better ways to do it…

    If we need to do it…

  9. mike says:

    I’m so pleased that we (the people of Area Y) voted against annexation. Good luck with your council. What a bunch of self serving loser’s.


    Area Y Mike

  10. Melessa says:

    I posted this in comment to Sally Nelson’s letter of concern in another area on the B-Town Blog:
    “Sally Nelson laid out the MAJOR issues for why this lame idea that the City Council is trying to force on Burien should be canned. The current system in place is working well. Stop trying to hoodwink us and rigging the system so that you can hold onto your council seat without any serious oppostion. Please City Council focus on issues pertinent to our citizens – safety for all, economic opportunity for our small businesses and perserving our cities’ environment and parks.”

    Let me add that the lack of transparency and citizen input about this whole matter is a HUGE RED FLAG. Ask a simple question – does this districting plan encourage or discourage democracy and citizen participation. Enough said.

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