I am a former corporate lawyer and have lived in northwest Washington for over 20 years, actively supporting the environment, social justice, and the rights of communities to govern themselves. I never in my life dreamed that I would be able to support a Tim Eyman initiative, but I'm a strong supporter of Initiative 517 which is on the ballot that we're about to vote on. And that's because I-517 strengthens the initiative process.
First, for any initiative - conservative or liberal - I-517 says that if you have enough signatures, the voters get to vote. The voters can't be prevented from voting.
Second, I-517 also ensures that signature-gatherers and petition signers can't be threatened or bullied.
And third, for state initiatives, I-517 extends the time for gathering signatures, giving grassroots groups greater access to the process.
In recent years, the powers that be have prevented Bellingham voters from voting on initiatives even though the sponsors followed all the rules. Last year it was the initiative asking the voters to express their opinion on coal trains and the Community Bill of Rights. The year before it was an initiative on red-light cameras. The same thing has been going on all over the state.
We need the government to do what we need, not what lobbyists tell it to do. Please vote for I-517 to protect and strengthen the initiative process.