Lacey City Council member refuses to take stands on initiatives
City councils across Washington state are making official declarations to oppose the controversial $30 tabs measure I-976 — but one member of the Lacey City Council says that this is not right.
“We should not be passing resolutions on things that are going on the ballot for the voters to decide,” Councilmember Lenny Greenstein told KIRO Radio’s Dori Monson. “It’s not our job to vote for them or to decide how they should vote.”
While the veteran council member, who has served nearly two full terms with the Lacey City Council, fully supports his colleagues advocating for or against initiatives on their own time, he cannot abide by a council in full taking a public stand on a topic that will go out to voters a few weeks later. This is not, he said, doing his duty to his constituents.
“We have an initiative process so that the voters can make decisions, and I don’t believe they elect us to educate them or to tell them how to vote on an issue,” he said. “I think they elect us to make decisions on behalf of the city.”
Along with two of his colleagues, Greenstein abstained from voting when a resolution to oppose 976 came before the Lacey City Council at last Thursday’s meeting. Because of the abstentions, the resolution was unsuccessful, making Lacey the first city council that had a resolution to oppose 976, but did not pass it.
“I take that same position when they come before us with a bond or a levy or anything of those things that are going to go before the voters,” he said. “So the council is very aware of my position.”
He thinks that the practice of taking stances on initiatives could set an alarming precedent for the future.
“It’s our job to represent the people, not to think for them … what’s next, when we start taking positions on initiatives?” he asked. “What’s next, are we going to take positions from the dais about whom they should vote for as well?”
Listen to the Dori Monson Show weekday afternoons from 12-3 p.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.