The question of whether to give Lakewood residents the powers of
initiative and referendum continue to draw strong argument from either
side of the issue. Two debates have already taken place and a third
forum will be held Oct. 13 at 7 a.m. at Burs Restaurant in Lakewood.
Speaking in favor of initiative and referendums will be David Anderson.
Speaking against will be Bob Warfield.
Anderson, who is a member of the Lakewood CARES group that seeks to take control of the Lakewood City Council in the upcoming Nov. 8 election, has campaigned for initiative and referendum power for citizens since 2003. Then he was part of a group called Families in Lakewood Against Gambling, or FLAG. The group wanted the powers of initiative and referendum so that they could put the issue of gambling in Lakewood to a vote of the people.
The City Council at the time decided against adopting initiative and referendum powers. Anderson believes the reason was financial, that the city did not wish to lose the revenue gambling provided it. The issue came up again in 2005 when members of Lakewood CARES won two seats on the City Council. The measure was turned down by a vote of 4-2. The council did, however, decide to put the issue up for an advisory vote, thus the debates leading up to the general election Nov. 8. The vote will not force the council to adopt powers of initative and referendum, it will only give the council an idea of how the general public feels about it.
Warfield, a Lakewood citizen, opposes initiative and referendum powers for the people of Lakewood because he feels many people do not keep themselves informed enough about all the issues that might come before them.
“With no newspaper or regular public forum, Lakewood is particularly vulnerable to special agenda or private money determined to manipulate opinion,” he said.
Voters who don’t have all the facts, but respond emotinally to a well-crafted campaign pomoted by one side of an issue may end up making a decision that could hurt the city in the long term, he argues.
“Every citizen of Lakewood enjoys the established rights of petition and speech,” Warfield said. “It is to, and through, our elected city council that we properly appeal to the public interest of community. The initiative process inserts a potential wedge against public trust in this cooperative convention for representative government.”
Again, the third debate on this issue is set for Oct. 13. It is sponsored by Lakewood United and will be held at 7 a.m. at Burs Restaurant, 6151 Steilacoom Blvd. SW.