Tag Archives: Home Rule Charter

Home Rule TV Appearances

Catch Home Rule on YPAC this week:
  • Watch Don Hinman debate Bruce Smith at the F.Y.I. Home Rule Forum. Find air times here.

Yakima County Voter Pamphlet

  • YPAC is also broadcasting the League of Women Voters October 7th Forum on Home Rule. Click here for air times.
  • YPAC is also broadcasting interviews with freeholder candidates separated into districts 1, 2, and 3. These interviews can also be viewed online.

If you want to learn more about the freeholders, you can also visit the Yakima Herald’s freeholder profiles as well as the Yakima County voter pamphlet. As a quick reminder, voters from each district elect 5 freeholders to represent them in the Home Rule process.


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Herald Highlights Home Rule & How It Provides Accountability

“Home rule is, as the name suggests, a chance to establish ground rules for how county government operates.”

The Yakima Herald highlighted Home Rule this weekend with a 3 page spread. It not only described the process of establishing a Home Rule Charter, but also highlighted how Home Rule can increase local government accountability.

David Lester, the article’s author, interviewed Steve Lundin, a renowned expert on local governments. Lundin, retired chief counsel for the state House of Representatives and author on local government described Home Rule as the following:

“It is the ability of the people to frame their county government that suits the local needs. It’s the constitution for a county.”


Six counties in Washington state shucked the commission form of government originally handed down by the state and drafted their own county charters. Both San Juan and Whatcom county freeholders weighed in on their experiences increasing local accountability.

“Perhaps the most important change in the home rule form of government is the ability for residents to petition the council through initiative or referendum. Some cities, including Yakima, have that authority now. Counties that have the commission form do not.

‘If you want to give citizens access to your government and want them to be able to say yes or no on issues, you should have that capability. You can only do that with a charter.’ said Richard Fralick, original freeholder for San Juan County’s charter.

With an initiative, citizens petition the county council to enact an ordinance by a public vote by the public. With referendums, citizens petition to have voters amend or remove an existing ordinance.”

According to Joe Elenbaas, original freeholder to Whatcom County’s charter, drafters of the charter can also include local performance audits of county government offices or as the paper reported, “Home rule also offers the possibility of creating an ethics commission to look over the shoulders of public officials.”

Freeholders will have options on what to include in the drafting of the Charter. November’s vote on Prop 1 simply starts the two-year process of freeholders reviewing the current form of government and suggesting changes with the drafting of a Home Rule Charter. After the charter is drafted, voters will get final say on whether to adopt the new charter or keep the current commission form of government.


Yakima's needs have changed since the 1800s

As the Herald noted, “none of those elements (above) were contemplated when the state Constitution formalized the commissioner form of government, a format that had preceded the state.” Commission forms of government were put in place over 100 years ago.

The state realized the commission system was outdated and amended the state constitution in 1948 to allow for counties to create home rule.

As Lundin says,

“Population in some counties was growing rapidly and pushing out into rural areas, creating issues for counties that needed more flexibility to deal with them. The most creative ferment of government thinking in the state was just after World War II. Home rule is a progeny of that,” he said. “There was a desire to break away from the (commissioner form); how to provide government on a logical, quasi-regional basis, and how to provide a uniform set of authorities and services for people.”

Yakima is a perfect example of a county whose needs have changed. Our population is five times what it was when we were handed the commission form of government  and is now half of the population of Wyoming. It’s high time we reviewed whether our government is meeting the needs of its residents. Votes YES on Prop 1.


Voters for Home Rule for Yakima County is  holding a community meeting tonight and subsequent Mondays to answer all your questions!

October 10th, 17th, and 24th
6 – 7:30 pm
North First Street Conference Room
223 N 1st Street

RSVP by emailing yakimahomerule@gmail.com

or calling 509-823-5062

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Home Rule Forum Televised on YPAC

The Yakima Chamber of Commerce invited Don Hinman and Bruce Smith to speak about Home Rule at a recent luncheon. Yakima Public Affairs Channel is showing the forum nearly every day. Click here to find their daily schedule.

Don spoke in favor of Home Rule focusing on three points:

  • What is Home Rule?
  • Can we do better than what we are doing now?
  • Will Home Rule make Yakima County government better?

Don’s speech opened with how voters control every step of the process from the 9,700 people who signed the petition to place Home Rule on the ballot to the voters having the final say on whether to adopt a new charter once it is drafted.

He called for community members to “not draw lines in the sand” and to participate in a discussion on whether increased checks and balances like the power of ballot initiatives would improve County government.

Don also made comparisons between Yakima County and business and pointed to the County being run by only three commissioners, holding both legislative and executive powers:

“I spent hours looking at nearly a hundred companies with gross sales of fifty-four million or less listed on the various stock exchanges and over the counter.  Every company had a single person serving as CEO and a Board of Directors that is much larger than three members.”

Three Commissioners overseeing an area twice the size of Delaware and half the population of Wyoming is a lot to manage. Don pointed to several instances of mismanagement and resources wasted:

  1. The County allowed a large concentration of housing to be built just west of the City of Yakima’s borders. Without urban sewer service, the ground became saturated. The City had to respond and residents of the City were left footing the bill.
  2. The County allowed a large feedlot outside Sunnyside city limits. Flies and feedlot odor forced the city to buy the feedlot and shut it down.
  3. The County purchased land near Toppenish to build a jail, but neglected to negotiate water rights with the Yakima Nation. Again, resources were wasted by poor decision making.

Is our County really working for us? During these hard economic times, can we afford lack of oversight and accountability? As Don said:

“I don’t know about you.  But in my business when times get tough that is when I do my best work.  I take a look at everything.  I find efficiencies I hadn’t noticed before, find new ways to do things and make the changes. The profits improve and the services we give to our customers improve.  There is no better time to review your operation than when your back is to the wall. The same holds true for county government.  It is time for the review Home rule can offer.”

You can read Don’s full speech here.

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Broad Support for Home Rule

Not only did 9,700 voters sign the petition to place Home Rule as an option on the ballot, but 42 people stepped up to file as freeholders to take the process forward after November. For a list of the freeholders click here.

The people signing the Voter Guide statement in support of Home Rule are another example of the broad support the effort has in Yakima.

Bernie Sims, a former Yakima city councilmember, Dr. Kathleen Ross, retired President and founder of Heritage Universe, and Jesse Palacios, a former Yakima County Commissioner, carry impressive credentials and represent diverse political views.

Here’s the Yes on Home Rule statement you’ll find in the voter’s guide:

“It’s time for Yakima County voters to take a new look at our county government.

It was created 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. A Home Rule charter allows us to examine our current structure, where, today, just three commissioners make all legislative and executive decisions.

Home Rule allows the people to have a say in how our government should function. It will provide options for bringing government closer to the people and creating better checks and balances, like county-wide ballot measures, an executive branch, and more. With a county twice the size of Delaware, isn’t it time we examined how to best govern ourselves?

Vote YES to start the process of drafting a new charter. Let us create a government that is truly by, of, and for Yakima.”

Join Bernie, Kathleen, and Jessie in showing your support of Home Rule by endorsing it here.

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Your Great, Great Grandaddy’s Government

Yakima County’s current commission system of government was handed down by the state legislature over 100 years ago. Times have changed. Yakima’s population has grown five times larger and business and populations needs are significantly different. Isn’t it time to take a look at whether our county government structure works for our modern needs?

Vote Yes on Home Rule to begin the process of examining 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?

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Official: Yakima County Home Rule & Freeholders on Nov Ballot

Now that all fifteen positions for freeholders have been filled, Yakima County Home Rule and the election of freeholders will officially be on the November ballot. A recent resolution by the County Commission called for Home Rule to ONLY be placed on this year’s ballot if all spots for freeholders were filled.

The filing period ends tomorrow, August 26th at 3:30 pm so there is still a chance things could change. Stay tuned.

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Filing Period for Freeholders Begins Next Week

In November, voters will decide whether they want to move forward with a new county charter for Yakima County. They will also elect 15 people or freeholders to draft the new charter. The new charter will then be voted on in a subsequent election.

Five freeholders will be elected from each of the three county commission districts. Freeholders must:

– be a registered voter
– reside in the commissioner district they seek to represent
– have lived in the county for at least five years

As noted in the Yakima Herald, the filing period for freeholders will open on August 22nd and extend to August 26th. If you are interested in being involved in the process of changing the current county government to one that is more accountable to the people, please contact the campaign at yakimahomerule@gmail.com

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