Two county offices could become non-partisan

Two proposals to amend Pierce County’s constitution — known as the Charter — are headed for a final County Council hearing July 10 after clearing the council’s Rules & Operations Committee Mon., July 2.

The Pierce County assessor-treasurer and auditor would become nonpartisan positions under ordinances 2007-50 and 2007-51. Both proposals raise the elected officials’ term limits from two consecutive four-year terms to three.

“Removing the political party affiliation from these offices makes them less beholden to party interests,” said Council Chair Terry Lee (District 7). “Allowing them to serve longer will allow officeholders to undertake projects they couldn’t otherwise complete, which will better serve Pierce County residents.”

If approved by two-thirds of the council (five of the seven members) on July 10, the two charter-amendment ordinances will go to Pierce County voters on Nov. 6 along with a third proposal approved April 24 (ordinance 2007-18) that would make the sheriff a nonpartisan position serving no more than three consecutive four-year terms. Charter amendments are not subject to veto by the County Executive. All three are available on the council’s Web site by visiting and selecting “Legislation” from the left-hand menu.

Four additional charter-amendment proposals will be referred to the Rules & Operations Committee at tomorrow’s 3 p.m. council meeting. Three of the ordinances deal with Instant-Runoff Voting — a ranked-choice voting system that voters approved last year — and would:

– require voters to rank only their top-three choices for each office in the 2008 election, and then rank all the filed candidates according to preference in each election thereafter (2007-63);

– clarify the filing requirements for minor-party candidates (2007-64); and

– extend the start date for Instant-Runoff Voting in Pierce County from July 2008 to July 2010 (2007-65).

The fourth measure (2007-66) establishes a filing fee for referenda. If approved by two-thirds of the council on July 31, all four would also appear on the Nov. 6 ballot.

The Pierce County Council meets Tuesdays at 3 p.m. in the County-City Building, 930 Tacoma Ave. S., Room 1045, in Tacoma.