Frequently Asked Questions
What is Prop 1, Yes on Home Rule?
A Yes vote on Prop 1 allows voters to have a say in how our government should function. It will start a two-year process of 15 elected, volunteer freeholders reviewing the current government structure and suggesting changes though the drafting of a “Home Rule” charter, which is like a constitution for county government. After the charter is drafted, voters have final say in accepting the charter or keeping the current government structure.
What are freeholders?
Freeholders are non-partisan, unpaid volunteers charged under the State Constitution to perform a civic duty on behalf of their fellow citizens. Freeholders are elected by voters to draft the Home Rule charter. The county commissioners passed a resolution in August allowing fifteen freeholders, five elected from each county commissioner district, to be involved in the Home Rule process. For a list of freeholder candidates, click here.
Do the freeholders replace the commissioners?
No. Voting Yes on Prop 1 does not replace the commissioners with freeholders. The freeholders have a specific duty to carry the Home Rule process forward. They are not charged with overseeing the operations of the county and do not replace the county commissioners nor their roles and responsibilities.
Why should we support Prop 1?
Home Rule gives us the freedom to create a county government that is best for us. The current government structure was put in place by the State Legislature over 100 years ago. Since then, the county population has grown five times larger! Business and population needs have changed significantly. Home Rule allows us to examine our current structure where, today, just three commissioners make all legislative and executive decisions. With a county twice the size of Delaware, isn’t it time we examined how to best govern ourselves?
How did we get the form of government we have now?
Yakima County is currently governed by a commission, which is the default form of government handed down by the State Legislature. A commission is made up of three paid county commissioners who hold both legislative and executive powers. Elected “at-large” by everyone in the county, each Yakima County commissioner represents the whole county, or about 240,000 people – that’s nearly twice as many people as a state senator represents and half the population of Wyoming!
What can we do with Home Rule?
The freeholders have options on what to include in a Home Rule charter and could decide to emulate what other counties have done in creating better checks and balances and accountability measures such as:
• The right of voters to change local laws through ballot initiatives;
• Separation of executive and legislative branches; and
• Regular review processes so Yakima voters have an ongoing voice in our government;
The fifteen freeholders elected will decide what to include in the charter.
How did Home Rule get on the ballot?
The State Constitution allows for Counties to create their own charters. Commissioners can decide to start the process with the election of freeholders or the people can collect signatures to request the process.
In Yakima, Home Rule is a completely participatory process and the purest form of democracy in that over 9,700 Yakima voters signed a petition to place Home Rule on the November ballot. From this first step of placing Home Rule on the ballot to electing the freeholders to carry the process forward to having a final say on accepting Home Rule, Yakima voters control every step of the process.
Will Prop 1 cost taxpayers money?
Freeholders are volunteers and are not paid or compensated for their time.