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Bainbridge change-of-government bill signed into law
Gov. Christine Gregoire signed into law Wednesday HB 1066 which alters state regulations regarding special elections on a municipality's form of government.
The bill was signed with its emergency clause intact which allows for the measure to go into effect immediately.
The governor's signature is the final hurdle for the city in securing a May 2009 referendum on Bainbridge's form of government.
Citizens will soon have to choose between the current mayor/council or the council/manager form of government.
"All we needed was this green light from the governor," said council member Bill Knobloch. "I am very impressed with the Legislature and how quickly they reacted. The ball is in the council's court now."
The council is working with City Attorney Paul McMurray to draft an ordinance that will officially call for a May 19 vote.
Council members had previously agreed in principal to a May date, with the condition that state laws would be changed so the election could be held legally.
Previously under state law, change-of-government elections could only take place during a general election of an odd-numbered year.
That would have put the question to voters at the same time they were choosing a new mayor.
The initiative did not make it on the ballot last year because it was not an odd-numbered election year.
The change-of-government movement began as a grassroots petition over a year ago.
The petition was certified by the Kitsap County auditor in Oct. 2008.
Since then, with the blessing of the city council and the help of local legislators in state House and Senate, grassroots activists were able to change state law in less than four months to remove the conflict of holding an election on a form of government, while also deciding on a mayor.
"They said it couldn't be done," council member Debbie Vancil said. "We are very pleased that our Legislature has responded so well and that the governor has been supportive.
"This is a historical bill that moved with emergency measures through both houses and to the governor. We're all very excited."