The Position of Council Member
Election of Council Members
To be eligible to run for a city council position, State law requires that the candidate be a registered voter in the represented jurisdiction at the time of filing. Also, RCW 35A.12, which covers cities and towns states the candidate must be a resident for a period of at least one year next preceding the election in order to be eligible for a city council position. All members of the council are elected at large to represent the entire city and serve on the council for four-year terms. Four council positions are elected during one election year, while the other three positions are elected two years later during the next elections. In both the primary race and in the general election, citizens vote for all council positions listed on the ballot.
Election of the Mayor
At the first council meeting of each even-numbered year, a mayor is elected by the council members. Although the mayor is recognized as head of the city for ceremonial purposes, he/she does not have any administrative duties.
The city council is the official legislative body of the City of Longview that adopts ordinances and resolutions and sets policy for the City. It is the responsibility of the city manager and staff to administer ordinances, resolutions and policies. As a policy-making body, the council assesses proposals to meet community needs, initiates action for new programs and decides how the City will finance City services and operations. The council also approves the municipal budget presented by the city manager and reviews and authorizes budget revisions. City council members perform miscellaneous other duties including acting as a liaison with other agencies and responding to community groups and individual constituents. Each member acts as a representative of the council and is expected to serve on various local and regional boards and commissions, so as not to unduly burden any one councilmember.
Public Disclosure Requirements
In order to give the public tangible proof that officials are acting in the public interest and not for their private gain, candidates for all public offices and incumbent elected officials are required to file public disclosure records of their personal financial status.
Conflicts of Interest
City council members are legally required to comply with certain standards of conduct involving potential conflicts of interest. Further, city officials are strictly forbidden by state law 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
Council members are also legally required to comply with certain standards of conduct. This applies specifically to all city council actions that determine the legal rights, duties or privileges of a specific council member.
Secrecy in Government Is Prohibited
All meetings of the city council must be conducted in public. Regular meetings do not require any special notice, but special meetings may be held only after the media is notified at least 24 hours in advance. A meeting may be “recessed” into an executive session only for certain matters, such as the consideration of property sales and purchases, and certain personnel matters. All votes by council members during a meeting must be public votes; secret ballots are prohibited.
Filing for a Council Position
The next council elections will occur in 2019.
Filing For Candidacy:
All candidates shall file declarations of candidacy with the County Auditor, during regular business hours beginning the Monday two weeks before Memorial Day and ending the following Friday in the year such regular City elections are held (RCW 29A.24.040). A filing fee equal to one percent of the annual salary of the office at the time of filing shall accompany the declaration of candidacy for any office with an annual salary of more than one thousand dollars per annum (RCW 29A.24.101). The filing fee for Longview city council members which accompanies the Declaration of Candidacy form is $108.00. State law makes provisions for candidates who lack sufficient assets or income to pay the filing 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. Primary elections are held on the first Tuesday of August (RCW 29A.04.321).
All cities' general elections shall be held throughout the state on the first Tuesday following the first Monday in November, in the year in which they may be called (RCW 29A.04.330).
How a vacancy is filled:
RCW 42.12.070 provides that the office held by a member of the city council which becomes vacant is to be filled for the period of time between the occurrence of the vacancy and the next regular municipal election by appointment by a majority of the remaining members of the city council. If the majority cannot agree upon such an appointment within 90 days after the occurrence of the vacancy, their power to appoint ceases and the county commissioners are empowered to fill the vacancy.
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 “to evaluate qualifications of a candidate for appointment to elective office. However, any interview of such candidate and final action appointing a candidate to elective office shall be in a meeting open to the public”. (RCW 42.30.110)
If any elected or appointed councilmember moves outside the city boundary, then that councilmember shall thereby forfeit the office of councilmember and that position shall be deemed vacant.