LYNNWOOD Wash. – The Lynnwood City Council discussed possible changes to advisory bodies during their meeting on June 21. A sizable amount of time was used to discuss who should be eligible to serve on advisory bodies, though several other items pertaining to the subject were also discussed.
“‘Advisory body’ means any board or commission, established by ordinance or resolution and authorized by the city council to give advice on subjects and perform regulatory functions as prescribed by the city council or applicable laws.”
The updated version also changes the definition of resident to “a person with primary residency within Lynnwood’s city limits,” removing the previous stipulation of being a registered voter. It also has changes under the membership section: “Except where non-resident members are authorized for certain bodies, a member shall be a resident of the city for the full duration of their term.”
“…Having the majority on the advisory boards be registered voters has value and I think that’s important to residents as well,” Council Member Patrick Decker said during the meeting. “…One of the questions I was asking, and again has been asked elsewhere, is how do we increase community involvement? And I think we can do that by removing barriers where it’s reasonable.”
There was a general consensus that increasing accessibility would benefit community involvement and that this was generally more important than ensuring participants were registered voters. Basically, why turn away someone who is interested—for example a non-US citizen who has legal, permanent residency—because they are unable to or currently not registered to vote.
“Lynnwood’s population is roughly 40,000. As of June 1, we have 21,626 registered voters, so that’s half of our population,” Communications & Public Affairs Officer Julie Moore said. “I looked back at our last mayoral election: we only had 6444 ballots cast for the mayor’s seat. So that shows you that just because you are a registered voter doesn’t necessarily mean that you vote and I would like to propose that community engagement and civic mindedness can take many different shapes and forms.”
Also discussed was the removal of term limits for advisory bodies.
“I think one of the problems that we have when we enforce term limits is we lose momentum as well as the historical advantage there,” Council Member Christine Frizzell said.
Finally, a few council members mentioned the need to be able to more easily remove commission members who are in, as Frizzell put it, “neglect of duty.”
“I think that rather than impose term limits, what we probably should do is beef up the ability to remove volunteers who are just not working out,” Council Member Ruth Ross said.