On February 17, 2015, the Honorable Thomas O. Rice of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Washington issued an Order pursuant to Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act requiring Yakima to implement a new seven, single-member district plan for electing City Council members. The Order is available here (pdf) with the map of the districts that is attached as “Exhibit A” to the Court’s Order. Additionally, an interactive map which displays the seven City Council districts referred to in the Court’s Order of February 17, 2015 and which details the boundaries of each single-member district. View Map
I. FORM OF GOVERNMENT
Yakima is a First Class, Charter city, operating under a Council/Manager form of government since June 1, 1959. The City Manager is appointed by the City Council. There are seven members serving on the Council elected for four-year terms. There are four district positions and three at-large positions. While four members are elected from districts, they represent the entire city. In a primary race, only registered voters in a district can vote for candidates running for election in that district. In the general election, voters cast their vote for all Council positions on the ballot. The Mayor is elected by the Council members every two years at the first meeting in January.
II. COUNCIL LEGISLATIVE RESPONSIBILITIES
The City Council acts as the official legislative and policy making body of the City of Yakima adopting all laws, ordinances, and resolutions and approving contracts required by the City. The Council analyzes proposals to meet community needs, initiates action for new programs, and determines the ability of the City to provide financing for City operations. The Council also reviews, modifies, and approves the annual municipal budget presented by the City Manager. Additionally, the City Council performs other miscellaneous duties including making appointments to various boards and commissions, acting as liaison with other governmental bodies, and responding to community groups and individual constituents. The Council has established various subcommittees and shares assignments on many other local boards and commissions. Each Council member is expected to serve on these boards and commissions so as not to unduly burden any Council member.
How Much Time Does It Take To Be A Council Member?
The City Council meetings are held the first and third Tuesdays of the month at 6:00 p.m. Duration of meetings vary from one hour to four hours, usually averaging three hours. On the second and fourth Tuesdays of the month at 8:00 a.m., the Council may meet for an informal discussion among themselves about issues that need in-depth study. Other special and adjourned meetings are called as needed. Generally in November and December, extra meetings are called to review the proposed budget. On Thursday evenings prior to the Council meeting, a Council packet containing the agenda for the upcoming meeting, staff reports and other general information is prepared for each Council member. An information packet is provided on Friday when no Council meeting is scheduled the next week.
In addition to these meetings, you should allow time for other duties; i.e. out-of-town meetings, speaking engagements, conversing with citizens, and ceremonial events such as welcoming conventions to Yakima and groundbreaking events.
Council members can expect to spend 15-20 hours per week on Council related-work. The Mayor spends approximately twice that amount of time.
III. PUBLIC DISCLOSURE REQUIREMENTS
Pursuant to Washington State law (RCW 42.17.240), candidates for public office and incumbent elected officials are required to file public disclosure records of their personal financial status. Within two weeks of becoming a candidate, a personal Financial Affairs Statement must be filed with the Public Disclosure Commission (PDC), listing all your income, compensation, real estate, other assets, financial holdings, and creditors. These reports are required to be filed annually by elected officials. The purpose of the report is to give the public tangible proof that officials are acting in the public interest and not for their private gain.
Candidates may also be required to submit campaign finance reports with the PDC and should contact them for information and instructions.
IV. CONFLICTS OF INTEREST AND THE APPEARANCE OF FAIRNESS DOCTRINE
Members of the City Council are required by law to comply with certain standards of conduct involving potential conflicts of interest and the Appearance of Fairness Doctrine. A Council member may not vote on any matter where he or she would be especially benefited because this would involve a conflict of interest. Further, state law strictly forbids city officials from having any personal financial interest in city employment or other city contracts, regardless of whether or not they vote on the matter. Public officials may not, directly or indirectly, give or receive any compensation, gift, or gratuity from a non-city source for any matter connected with or related to city business. The Appearance of Fairness Doctrine applies to all City Council actions that determine the legal rights, duties, or privileges of specific persons, such as in zoning and land use hearings.
Article II, Section l.A. of the City of Yakima Charter states the elective officers of the City of Yakima shall be residents of the City. Members of the Council shall be qualified electors of the City. Qualified electors of the City elect one Council member from each of the four separate districts, and three members from the City at-large regardless of residence in any particular area of the City. Any member ceasing to possess any of the qualifications specified in general law or in the City Charter, or is convicted of crime involving moral turpitude while in office, shall immediately forfeit his/her office.
VI. SALARY AND FRINGE BENEFITS
The salary for Council members is established by ordinance passed by the Council. No Council member may vote himself/herself an increase in salary. Therefore, increases for Council members are effective only after a Council member has been re-elected for another term of office.
Current salaries in effect for Council positions are:
(1) 4 District Positions $1,075.00
(2) 3 At-Large Positions $1,075.00
(3) Assistant Mayor $1,175.00
(4) Mayor $1,375.00
The fringe benefits include:
• Reimbursement for expenditures as provided by Section 2.20.086 of the Yakima Municipal Code.
• $5,000 life insurance policy; premium fully paid by the City.
• Workman’s Compensation insurance coverage (self-insured).
• Professional liability indemnification covering Council members in their official capacity (self-insured).
• Payment by the City of its portion of Social Security payroll tax.
• Deferred Compensation Plan (no matching funds by City)
• Medical insurance offered (premium paid in full by Council member)
VII. ELECTION PROCESS
All elections, whether special or general, shall be conducted by the County Auditor (RCW 29.13.040).
Filing For Candidacy:
All candidates shall file declarations of candidacy with the County Auditor according to the filing schedule set by state law.(RCW 29.21.060). A filing fee equal to one percent of the annual salary shall accompany the declaration of candidacy for any office with an annual salary of more than one thousand dollars per annum (RCW 29.18.050). State law makes provisions for candidates who lack sufficient assets or income to pay the filing fee. (See Section VII for current information on filing dates and fee)
A primary election is only necessary when more than two candidates have filed for the same position. The primary election shall be conducted in the manner provided by the laws of the State of Washington, according to Article III, Section 1 of the City Charter. Primary elections are held on the third Tuesday of the preceding August (before the November general election),
All cities’ general elections shall be held throughout the State on the first Tuesday following the first Monday in November in the odd-numbered years (RCW 29.13.020).
VIII. HOW A VACANCY ON THE COUNCIL IS FILLED
If any Council member elected or appointed to an at-large position moves outside the City boundary, or in the event a Council member elected or appointed to a “district position” moves outside his/her district, then that Council member shall thereby forfeit the office of Council member and that position shall be deemed vacant.
In the event a vacancy occurs, for any reason, the vacancy shall be filled by the appointment of some qualified person by a majority vote of the remaining members of the Council.
Such appointee shall hold office only until the next regular municipal election to fill the unexpired term of that position. If the vacancy occurs in a position held by a Council member originally nominated or elected from a district, then the appointee shall be a resident of that district, and so shall the member who is elected to serve the remainder of that term.
Generally, the Council opens up a filing period for the vacancy and requests each candidate to complete an application form. The candidates are then interviewed during a public Council meeting. Council may deliberate on the qualifications of the candidates in a closed session and then vote on the appointment in an open meeting.
IX. ELECTION INFORMATION
Current election information is available on the County Auditor’s election website at www.yakimacounty.us/vote/
X. Political Advertising
The County Election Department provides information regarding political advertising, addressed under State law. The City, in Chapter 15.08.040 of the Municipal Code, regulates political yard signs. Political signs which, during a campaign, advertise a candidate or candidates for public elective office, a political party, or promote a position on a public issue provided such signs shall not be posted more than ninety (90) days before the election to which they relate and are removed within fifteen (15) days following the election, are exempt from the application, permit and fee requirement of Title 15.
XI. ADDITIONAL RESOURCES
An Election Information Report that provides general election information is available from the Yakima County Auditor’s Election Office.
Please call the Yakima City Clerk’s Office at 575-6037 for additional information.