The ability for citizens to vote directly on city initiatives isn’t common in Washington State and doesn’t exist in Snoqualmie, but an effort to adopt an initiative system is getting closer to becoming a reality.
Direct Democracy for Snoqualmie (DDFS), a political action committee formed by members of the nonprofit Snoqualmie Community Action Network (SCAN), has been collecting signatures for a petition to establish an initiative and referendum policy in the city.
If approved, voters would be able to petition an ordinance for adoption. If the necessary signatures are collected, the ordinance could be approved by the city or put to a citywide vote. The citizens would also be able to petition to have a referendum on an existing policy.
DDFS began the petition in early February and have more than half of the required signatures needed. Dana Hubanks, president of the SCAN board of directors, said the deadline to meet the signature requirement is July 31. The group needs to collect the signatures of 50 percent of all registered voters in the city (about 2,000 people). If enough signatures are collected, the request to implement those polices in Snoqualmie will appear on the November general election ballot.
With a little more than a month left, DDFS plans to attend events this summer in order to meet their goal. They began by dividing the city up into 13 sections, and have canvassed in 12 so far. The groups plans to canvas the remaining section of the city and to cover additional events like the Downtown Art and Wine Walks and Hierloom Cookshop’s Green Market.
“We have a core group of five really dedicated volunteers gathering the bulk of the signatures,” Hubanks said. “We have a wider network of about 15 people helping, a small and dedicated group pushing the pavement and making it happen.”
The biggest challenge the group has faced is reaching people. It can often be difficult to speak with people by knocking on doors, but the discussions the volunteers have had have been positive, they say.
“Of the people we’ve spoken to, we’ve had an overwhelmingly positive response. When we’ve been able to reach people, people have been really enthusiastic and quick to sign the petition,” Hubanks said. “One thing I’ve noticed that has been really interesting, most people don’t realize we don’t already have these powers.”
While initiative and referendum policies are not present in the majority of Washington cities, neighbor cities do have them in place. The Municipal Research and Services Center website states that 61 cities in the state have the policies including North Bend, Issaquah and Sammamish.
Addressing claims made about the push for direct democracy policies, Hubanks clarified that the group is not based around any specific issue and is non-partisan. The group is not advancing the petition in order to achieve a specific goal other than to acquire the rights for the citizens of the city.
DDFS also is looking for more volunteers in the city to help the push for 2,000 signatures. Any interested citizens looking to get involved can email firstname.lastname@example.org.