Submitted by the San Juan County Auditors Office
A San Juan County citizen’s initiative concerning immigration has been approved for the November general election ballot. Initiative 2017-7 required 1,635 signatures to advance to the voters. This represents 15 percent of the votes cast in the county in the last gubernatorial election. On July 5, the sponsor turned in 156 petition signature pages containing 2,668 signatures. On July 12, the petition was certified with 2,382 valid signatures. Upon certification, the auditor is authorized to submit the measure to the voters at the next general election.
There is an alternative route to adoption. The county council can unilaterally adopt the initiative into law. If they do so, the measure will not go to the voters in November. The council must adopt the initiative as presented, “without change or amendment.” If they make changes, both the original initiative and the amended initiative must go to the voters. To consider options and facilitate public discussion, the county council has scheduled a public hearing on the initiative at 9:15 a.m., Tuesday, Aug. 15. The public hearing will take place in the council chambers at 55 Second St. in Friday Harbor.
The right to create law by initiative has been available to San Juan County citizens since the adoption of the county charter in 2005. Since 2005, five initiatives have been filed with the San Juan County Auditor’s Office. Of those, only two have completed the petition process and submitted petitions for certification. The previous one, Initiative 2012-4, commonly known at the GMO Initiative, was certified, placed on the 2012 general election ballot, and adopted into law by the voters.
In addition, two “mini-initiatives” have been submitted. Mini-initiatives require fewer signatures and go to the county council, rather than to the voters, for adoption or rejection. Only one of the two – Initiative 2010-3, concerning vesting of property rights – completed the petition process and went to council. Council elected not to adopt the initiative into law. For information, call 378-3357.