OPINION: The City of Burien Needs to Slow Down on Annexation Vote

The Burien City Council will ask King County to hold a vote on annexing the final part of the North Highline Unincorporated Area on Aug. 7.

What’s the hurry?
The City Council agreed at the March 19 meeting to vote on seeking the election at their April 2 meeting. Only Council members Lucy Krakowiak and Bob Edgar are opposed to annexation, perhaps joined by Council member Jack Block, Jr. That leaves four solid votes for seeking the election. It isn’t likely that lineup will change.

South King Media and The B-Town Blog is not, at this time, taking a position on whether annexation is good or bad – only that the election be held in November, 2012.

The Council could wait a couple of months to ask for the election to be at the Nov. 6 general election when voters will be choosing our president, our governor, our members of Congress and the U.S. Senate. Every lucid election observer knows many more will vote in the fall and when such important issues are on the ballot.

Summer elections often sink into the haze of summer fun and out-of-school kids. It is well known to election observers and candidates that the electorate doesn’t even start to get interested in elections until after Labor Day.

Minimum voter turnout?
B-Town Blog letter writer John Poitras had it right in his letter published the other day:

“Holding it in August guarantees a small turnout and minimum voter participation. Holding it a couple of months later in November guarantees much larger voter participation.”

That is critical in an area like White Center and the rest of “Area Y”. The large number of Asians, Africans, Hispanics and other non-U.S. born people in the region exacerbates the problem of election interest simply because many come from cultures where elections are either rigged for unheard of. But these people and all the rest of those in the North Highline area will be hugely affected by the annexation.

Some will say that many of these people will not vote anyway. Maybe. But added time will help these important residents understand how important the election is and decide how to vote.

Is it not fairer that as many of those voters as possible should be able to make their choice?

Another letter writer, Joey Martinez, says the county Library Board could use the later election date to decide to close a library in the Highline area. We do not think the board will rush to a decision now that it seem certain the issue of annexation will be soon solved.

Finally, we are unsure about whether Councilmember Jerry Robison should recuse himself from the annexation vote because he may as an attorney have represented a group in North Highline. We suggest only that Mr. Robison take the high road and consider recusal if a reasonable person could infer there is a conflict of interest.

The only way to end this seemingly endless debate over the annexation is to hold a vote for the people who live in the area. The extra time will give everyone who wants to vote a chance to exercise his or her franchise.

– Jack Mayne

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