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Seven or nine: Voters may decide Council size

Two Bremerton City Councilmen hope to send a measure to the voters this fall asking them to authorize the changing of the City charter to reduce the City Council from nine to seven members.

Mike Short and Will Maupin have penned a proposal that if approved by voters would also ask voters whether they want to vote for councilors at large rather than by district.

The plan was presented in a study session June 29 at the Norm Dicks Government Center, 345 Sixth St.

Under the proposal the districts would go to seven in the 2007 election. All offices would be up for re-election with Councilors representing even numbered districts initially serving two year terms and odd numbered districts four years. Each district would be increased by about 1,000 residents.

“We are somewhat top heavy on the City Council. There are some efficiencies to be gained,” Short said.

The idea to reduce its numbers was originally raised in February and received little support from the Council then.

This discussion brought forth more interest in the idea, but some Council members voiced concerns about an at large election. Under the current system each Councilor is elected by voters in their district. A citywide vote would allow all the voters to determine who represents a district.

“People in this town have clearly annunciated they want someone from their neighborhood to represent them,” said Councilman Mike Shepherd about the possibility of an at large election.

“A citywide campaign is going to be expensive,” said Councilman Brad Gehring. He said that would open the door to special interest groups.

According to Maupin, most of the cities in the state vote at large. The move would also give the voters more influence over the council as a whole, rather than just being able to vote on one person.

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