“A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum” might be remembered by some as that 1966 farce of Roman times starring Zero Mostel and Phil Silvers with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. This comedy abounds with farce, lies, the bait-n-switch, government officials, miscommunications, with a wily slave who maneuvers, connives, plans and bamboozles, played by Mostel.
If you missed the play or haven’t seen the movie, it is truly a comedy classic worth ordering.
Like many musicals, there are some great songs, too. My favorite which you can occasionally catch me playing on my radio show includes “Comedy Tonight.”
That song starts off, “Something familiar, something peculiar, something for everyone: A comedy tonight! Something appealing, something appalling, something for everyone: A comedy tonight!”
That song, that movie, both center around today’s topic. Yes, it’s the beginning of the political season here in Sequim.
In 2011, there are four city council positions up for election. Mayor Ken Hays and Councilors Erik Erichsen, Laura Dubois and Susan Lorenzen all flew into office on the winds of change and “smart growth,” some business leaders have dubbed that no growth.
There’s that song again … “Something aesthetic, something frenetic, something for everyone: A comedy tonight!”
This isn’t a derogatory condemnation of our elected officials, but you’ve heard the discussions, the coffeehouse chatter, even the talk of folks attending city council meetings. There are times when the best show in town has been Sequim City Council meetings.
There will be a mail-in primary election on Aug. 16, which means marking ballots the first two weeks of August. Campaigning will be in full swing throughout the summer.
The top two vote-getters for each council seat will advance to the Nov. 2 ballot. Again, that really means that we are voting by mail before the arrival of the Great Pumpkin in October.
If a candidate runs unopposed in the primary, then he or she has been elected to take office on Jan. 1, 2012.
The first key dates will be June 6-10, which is the candidate filing period.
One name that will not be on the ballot for city council this year is Bob Spinks. While I have been asked, recruited and offered support, 2011 is a rebuilding year for me as I have transitioned out of being a police chief last year and into the world of broadcasting and commentaries, of writing grants as well as being a new member of the board of directors for the Sequim Senior Activity Center.
At this juncture, I enjoy being a commentator in the newspaper and doing my radio show. Both of those duties would have to go on hiatus for weeks in advance of filing for an elective office and throughout the campaign because of equal time and fairness issues. I’ll keep writing and broadcasting for the foreseeable future, if you keep reading and listening to the radio.
However, there are meetings, discussions, recruiting and coffee klatches that already have sprung up around Sequim to vet and prep new city council candidates.
With a June filing deadline, by the time individuals investigate, commit and build their supporters, March, April and May will quickly pass by.
The monthly salary for a Sequim city councilor is $150 a month, not a money-maker. But, councilors act as the board of directors for the municipal corporation of Sequim. The city budget tops $23 million, which includes a general fund reaching $8 million in 2011.
The city maintains a staff of 72 employees and roughly 100 volunteers. Add to that another $600,000 that is expected to be raised by the new Transportation Benefit District created by voters in 2009 to improve the community’s arterials and you can see the importance of these elected officials’ duties.
Think of some corporations with budgets of $23 million and staffs nearing 100 employees — then think about your city council and comparable individuals in the corporate world.
Many corporations might require decades of business experience, an MBA, success in managing similar-sized corporate operations.
A city councilor in Sequim has to be a registered voter of the city and must have been a resident of the city for at least one year.
Sequim truly has become the retail trade center for the county, with the only real retail competition being the Super Walmart in Port Angeles and car dealerships to the west.
Whether you supported box stores and the resulting spin-off traffic those stores generate for other businesses in town or opposed growth hoping that the sleepy dairy village of the 1940s could somehow survive, our business community is contributing well over $2 million to City Hall operations by way of sales and use taxes. That’s a hefty part of the city’s total general fund, which pays for the core of city services.
With that growing business sector, which has eluded so many other small towns, Sequim is able to provide services that otherwise would be on the cutting room floor at City Hall.
That same business community through sales tax is sending roughly $18 million annually to the coffers of the state of Washington. Wow!
Put sales tax revenue into perspective. On a per capita basis using 2009 figures from the city website, Sequim was generating $788 in sales tax per capita. Port Townsend was generating $730; Port Angeles just $662; Poulsbo $692; Port Orchard $645 and the list continues.
Economically, Sequim is doing very well in this economy, even with a bottomed-out construction market and no major brand car dealers in town.
Of course what services, what are priorities and where we head in the future are core functions of the city council with its budget authority and in the direction councilors squarely provide the city manager to execute.
Hopefully you too will seriously consider running for city council! You can visit the city’s website on “Facts You Should Know About for Filing for a Council Position” at:
index.cfm. You’ll notice that the election dates, positions, data, meeting times and other information are out of date, but that probably will get updated quickly now.
Me, I’ll be looking to hold our elected officials accountable.
EDC and economic brainpower
Tue, Jun 14, 2011
Economic Development: Olympic Medical Center
Wed, Jun 1, 2011
A closer look at our region’s economic development
Wed, Apr 20, 2011
The ‘next level’ a step up?
Wed, Mar 16, 2011
Tue, Feb 15, 2011
Criminalizing mental health, Part 2
Wed, Jan 26, 2011
Criminalizing mental health, Part I
Wed, Jan 19, 2011
Don't lose sight of the big picture
Wed, Dec 15, 2010
Sequim's haves and have-nots
Wed, Nov 17, 2010
A too silent majority
Tue, Oct 19, 2010
Time for our government to think 'out of the box'
Thu, Aug 19, 2010
Prepare your home, family for emergencies
Wed, Jun 16, 2010
The unsung heroes of dispatching
Wed, May 19, 2010
Thanks, pards, for the help
Wed, Apr 21, 2010
Childhood ends with sex abuse
Wed, Mar 17, 2010
Enforcing little laws prevents big crimes
Wed, Feb 3, 2010
Junkies wanted more ways than 1
Wed, Jan 6, 2010
Season starts with a nasty Spirit of Theft
Wed, Dec 2, 2009
Every community's dirty little secret
Wed, Nov 4, 2009