Yakima County Home Rule Question (November 2011)

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A Yakima County Home Rule Question was on the November 8, 2011 ballot in Yakima County.

This measure was defeated

  • YES 14,338 (33.32%)
  • NO 28,697 (66.68%)Defeatedd[1]

This measure sought to create a home rule charter for the county. Those in favor had based their desire for a home rule charter on the fact that there could be more representation on the county level; currently three members serve as the county council but if home rule had been approved then there would have been the possibility to have a council with more members and therefore more representation. The number of council members though would have been decided at a later date by the freeholders.

Pierce and King counties are two of six counties in Washington which already have home rule charters. Supporters of home rule felt that more representation would benefit the county, but current council members said that they already represent the county well enough. Along with the possible increase in council members, home rule would also have given more control to the county government away from the state.[2]

With the filing of the last freeholder position, this vote was officially allowed to proceed. If any of the proposed positions had not been filled by a candidate than the county noted the vote would not be able to occur. The freeholders were elected from the current three commissioner districts and those elected would have had the task of writing up a new charter and then submit it to voter approval.[3]


Those in favor of this measure commented during a public meeting held on September 12, stating that this measure was not about politics but rather allowing for a better for of government to help residents. Comparing other charter counties to what Yakima could be if this measure had been approved was the main argument, that other counties successfully initiated this type of charter change.[4] Supporters also noted that the current form of government was outdated and a newer form was needed to allow residents to have more of a say in how the government should function. Noting that three people make all the legislative and executive decisions for the county when more people should have a say in those matters.[5]

Bernie Sims, a former Yakima City Council member, stated that he did support the measure and noted that the county is too large to still rely on just three representatives for residents. The question of home rule had come up before, but Sims noted that this time it was different, the county had grown a lot since the last attempt.[6]


Those opposed to this measure noted that this was just a way for Democrats to gain a deeper foothold in local elections as well as being too costly when budgets are already tight. Opponents also spoke up during the public meeting that was held on September 12; noting that this would just be a way for those Democrats who were unable to gain positions through regular elections to do so now.[4]

The Republican party had stated their opposition to this measure, noting that the form of government created at statehood is still efficient and still works for residents.[6]

Path to the ballot

This measure was brought to the ballot by a petition effort by residents, 6,316 valid signatures were needed for approval of the petition; petitioners were able to obtain 6,418 valid signatures.[7]

Text of measure

The question on the ballot:

Proposition No. 1 concerns a proposal to frame a home rule charter for Yakima County. If approved, a board of fifteen (15) freeholders would be elected for the purpose of drafting a home rule charter for submission to the voters of Yakima County to adopt or reject pursuant to Article XI, Section 4, of the Washington State Constitution. Should this proposition be approved?[8][9]

See also

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