Jul 292011

There are several topics addressed by Rene Neff in the July 25th issue of the South Whidbey Record that need clarification:

1. Leadership in the transition time: A Council-elected Mayor would be immediately in place to provide leadership and represent the city in many matters. An interim administrator, many of whom are generally available and can be found fairly easily though regular networking channels, would be appointed by Council as staff continue with their specialties, like the budget development that is regularly run by Debbie.

John McFarland, skilled county human resources expert, has offered to go to work pro bono for Langley forthwith on a search for a manager, which he feels would yield fruit fairly quickly. Unlike in mayoral elections, one or more town open meetings would be held to give input on desired qualifications and temperament e.g., specialties in city organization, environmental orientation, economic development, planning, budgeting, etc. There is no reason for Langley to be “leaderless for months.”

2. Costs and savings of the Council-Manager form: The presenters at the 7/21 Town Meeting, three seasoned managers of cities large and small and the Mayor of Samamish, were strong in their assertion that managers work for and gain efficiency with their cities, often dramatically. Even a modest 5% improvement in efficiency Continue reading »

LWV Candidates Forum

 Events  Comments Off
Jul 262011

The League of Women Voters will hold its Candidates Forum for Langley’s primary election in Fellowship Hall at the Langley United Methodist Church on Thursday, July 28, 2011 starting at 6:30 pm. Council Positions 3 and 4 have three candidates each and thus will be on the primary ballot. The candidates for Position 3 are Robin Adams, Jim Sundberg and Kathleen Waters. The candidates for Position 4 are Bruce Allen, Thomas Gill and Jonathon Moses. The two contested candidates — Hal Seligson for Council Position 2 and Larry Kwarsick for mayor — will not be on the primary ballot but will participate in the forum.

Dear Langley

 Endorsements  Comments Off
Jul 222011

I love our village of Langley.  I love to walk into town, to meet friends at Useless Bay Coffee, to drive down 3rd St. with that wonderful view of the town set against the water and the mountains, the special Clyde Theater and WICA, and the many good people who volunteer to help neighbors, but I don’t love it to death.

A community electing a mayor along with a city council is as American as apple pie and Norman Rockwell and certainly fits the image of our lovely village, interacting with its elected officials. But I think this model of governing the city is becoming like the insect trapped in tree sap which eventually becomes hardened to amber.  It’s as though we can’t see the picture of our  village as part of a larger community which is becoming more and more complicated, difficult to govern and fractious.  In order to preserve what I love about this town, I want us to remain flexible and able to adapt to the changes that will surely affect us.  I think remodeling our city government to a more effective way of governance, a  council-manager form, will provide us with a bridge that protects what we have and love here, but enable us to deal with complexities that are already at our doorstep.

Jul 172011

I would like to introduce the fourth resource person who will be available to answer questions at the Proposition 1 Town Meeting.

John McFarland

John McFarland is a retired City Administrator who served in the Cities of Renton and Tukwila. He has over 26 years of experience in local government, is a lifetime member of the Washington City Management Association (WCMA), and a recipient of the Washington Research Council’s Pathfinder Award for innovative public-private partnerships. He has designed and administered numerous selection processes for executive level positions and most recently served as the Interim Director of Human Resources for Island County.

John received a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Washington and a Masters in Public Administration from the University of Puget Sound.  He resides in Freeland with his wife Linda and serves on the Board of Directors for the Whidbey Island Veterans Resource Center, is a committee member of the Whidbey Island Backyard Wildlife Habitat Fair Committee, and a member of the Friends of Freeland.

Jul 152011

I would like to introduce a third resource person who will be available to answer questions at the Proposition 1 Town Meeting.

Mayor Don Gerend

Don has been on the Sammamish City Council since this youngest city in Western Washington incorporated in 1999. He has been elected by the Council to serve as Mayor three times in this Council-Manager city fifteen miles East of Seattle, nestled along the Eastern shore of Lake Sammamish between Issaquah and Redmond.

Don has a Bachelor of Science degree in Applied Math and Engineering Physics, as well as a Masters Degree in Physics, from the University of Wisconsin, and a Ph.D. in Astronomy from the University of Washington.  Previous occupations were as a rocket scientist at Boeing, professor of astronomy and physics at Seattle University, and commercial real estate syndicator and asset manager.

He is currently on the board and treasurer of the Suburban Cities Association of King County, on the board and Vice President of the Association of Washington Cities, a member and former chair of Eastside Transportation Partnership, a member of the Puget Sound Regional Council Transportation Policy Board, a board member of Eastside Fire and Rescue, on the National League of Cities Information Technology and Communications steering committee and on the advisory councils for Issaquah School District Foundation and Lake Washington School District Foundation.

Jul 142011

I’m making a good faith effort to understand Prop 1 as a citizen of a place I truly love – and finally I’ve seen a bit of light. We live in a charged political climate nationally and this polarization has unfortunately trickled down to our local system. Clearing that away as best I can, here’s what I see.

Democracy isn’t just a once a year vote for elected officials. Democracy isn’t just a chance to speak up in hearings. Democracy is the rule of law. It was invented by people who wanted to try to govern themselves, so they wrote a Constitution which is the supreme law of the land. They developed a system where “the people” via representatives can enact laws that, if they are Constitutional, will be upheld by their leaders and interpreted by the Courts and enforced by the law.

Continue reading »

Jul 122011

I would like to introduce two of the resource people who will be available to answer questions at the Proposition 1 Town Meeting.

Robert W. (Bob) Jean

Bob Jean recently retired as City Manager for the City of University Place, WA.  He has over 35 years city management experience, including 30 years as City Manager and City Administrator in Council-Manager and Mayor-Council cities in Washington, Oregon, California, Kansas and Wyoming.

Continue reading »

Town Meeting Flyer

 Town Meeting  Comments Off
Jul 112011

Click here for a PDF version of the announcement of the upcoming Proposition 1 Town Meeting.  The Town Meeting will provide a venue for continuing the conversation we are all having about which form of government, mayor-council or council-manager, is in the best interests of our city currently and for the future. As can be seen by the announcement, the Meeting is being sponsored by Effective Governance for Langley in order to provide as much information as possible about the Council-Manager form and give an opportunity to have questions answered. The goal of the Meeting is to support a truly informed electorate about Proposition 1.

Balance of Powers

 Uncategorized  Comments Off
Jul 112011

Much of the discussion about Proposition 1 revolves around the principle of separation of powers, or divided government.  As a professor of political science, I’ve had occasion to reflect (and teach) on this subject over the years, even if it is not my own area of research. In this light, I thought it might be useful to spell out some of the history behind this concept, and how it applies (and doesn’t!) to local governments, like ours.

Continue reading »


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Jul 112011

Welcome to the “Effective Governance for Langley” website.  We hope you will find the information and opinions presented here useful in helping you make your decision for Proposition 1 on August 16. We will be adding more content almost daily, so please come back and visit us often.  If you have questions, please see the form provided. We will do our very best to get them answered in a timely manner.