Political pyrotechnics are lighting up Lynnwood, where a citizens group is trying to overturn a ban on fireworks sales set to take effect next year.
The Lynwood City Council approved the controversial ban last month on a 4-3 vote, citing safety concerns.
“We felt like there was enough being said within the community by people that live here that we were basically being authorized to deal with the issue and that’s what we did,” Council president Loren Simmonds told KIRO Radio.
But that set off former city councilman Ted Hikel, who told KIRO Radio’s Dori Monson Show Thursday the council completely ignored the will of the people.
“They did not go out and ask the citizens what they wanted. As a matter of fact, they were given a chance to put this on the ballot.”
Hikel, who chairs the newly formed Lynnwood Citizens for Fireworks and Freedom, says the previous Council commissioned a professional survey in 2008 that found a vast majority of people opposed a fireworks ban.
“We discovered that 75 percent of the residents don’t want the fireworks ban. Fifty-one percent wanted the law left the way it was and 24 percent wanted a more lenient law,” Hikel said.
“That’s pretty darn overwhelming,” said KIRO Radio guest-host David Boze. “There’s not a whole lot of issues where I think you’d get 75 percent of the population saying we’re OK with this.”
Hikel’s group has been gathering signatures at fireworks stands and elsewhere this week to put the fireworks ban on the November ballot. They need about 2,700 registered Lynnwood voters to sign. Hikel said they’ll likely have far more.
“As a matter of fact, I’ve had people call me up asking me where they can go to sign up.”
Current Council president Simmonds has discounted the previous survey, but said he has no problem with Hikel’s effort to overturn the ban.
“That’s part of the government process and more power to him,” Simmonds said.
In addition to ignoring the will of the people, Hikel said a ban would also have a devastating effect on nonprofits that raise money each year through fireworks sales in the city.
“We have churches, we have Young Life groups, we have people who are here to do good by raising money, and they can raise a whole lot of money in a short amount of time. They can raise money that would take all year with bake sales and other fundraisers,” he said.
With more and more cities banning fireworks sales, Boze said he has a problem with government taking away another tradition in the name of safety.
“The reason why this ticks me off is it’s not just Lynnwood. There’s an attitude that’s permeated all sorts of local government,” he said. “I recognize there’s a risk to this, but there’s a risk to all kinds of fun things. It’s just a matter of what can be generally safe and when you have this whole blanket ban, it really gets into a nanny state kind of attitude for the citizens.”
Hikel said his group understands safety concerns and only supports safe use of state-approved fireworks under adult supervision. But he said the people should ultimately be the ones to decide, not four people on the City Council.