Union Gap Closing In On Government Change
Union Gap voters had their say last night, and called for a change in government.
54 percent of voters want to change from a strong mayor type of government to a council-manager form.
Council member Dan Olson has been involved with the city of Union Gap almost his entire life.
And over the past few years, Olson says the city has suffered financially.
"Budgets are hurting, our budget's been hurting for a long time. We've been using reserves for many-many years. And now those reserves are depleted," said Olson.
He and members of the community started a petition to have a change of government placed on this year's election ballot.
It would shift the city's strong mayor government to a council manager format.
Currently, Union Gap Mayor Jim Lemon has control over all city departments.
However, a council-manager style would give policy making to the council - and a city manager would be responsible for administration.
We spoke to Mayor Lemon last night following the results that were counted so far, and he says he wasn't worried at all, in fact, he said 'I'm glad a great weight has been taken off my shoulders.'
"As a council member, it's pretty easy to vote for what you want, and try to play games. But as a mayor, especially without an administrator, you really have to figure out solutions. So they're no longer my problems to solve," said Lemon.
Olson says the city won't start making plans until all of the ballots are counted, but he is eager to see a change come to the city.
"Eventually, once it's certified, then we can go out to add and try to find a well seasoned city manager that will come in and actually start running a city that hasn't been run that well for many-many years, in my estimation," said Olson.
If proposition one is offically certified, the change in government will take effect January first.
At that point, Mayor Jim Lemon will serve the rest of his term as an eighth council member.