The news item entitled “County names Glenn Olson as its new CAO,” in the Central Kitsap Reporter July 19 is the latest attempt to delay, if not prevent, the needed change of the county’s commission form of government, where commissioners both legislate and execute policies, to something that resembles a corporation where policy making and execution are distinct and separate functions.
The commission form may have worked well in the past but Kitsap County has grown to the point that a change is required.
Each department head is under a commissioner. Commissioners are politicians, not necessarily with administrative or management abilities, and the problem arises when a department head is compelled to sacrifice sound judgment resulting from education, training and experience, to keep his/her job to the detriment of taxpayers who are denied the quality of service they paid for.
This change of government form directly affects department heads whose job performance after all reflects the efficiency, or lack thereof, the county is in delivering service to the public.
As city engineer, I headed the engineering department of a municipality that morphed from commission to council/manager form.
Under the commission form, I was accountable to a council composed of politicians from both political parties. I navigated my actions and decisions between politicians of the party in power and those out of it, careful not to displease those in the minority to keep my job following each election cycle.
Under the council/manager form, I was free to do my job as best I could without political interference and only accountable to the professional manager.
Short of changing the government form, all attempts to effect sound government management is an exercise in futility.
Noel C. Sim, P.E. Bremerton