Northwest NEWS

July 27, 1998

Editorial

Farewell from your Cedar County Committee

   By unanimous decision, the Washington Supreme Court denied Cedar County Committee's petition for a Writ of Mandamus directed to Secretary of State Ralph Munro to certify the signatures submitted for the establishment of Cedar County.
  
   "... The Secretary of State has no duty to certify the committee's petitions as an election. Moreover, the creation of a new county is an exercise of legislative power subject only to state constitutional limitations: the Legislature cannot be compelled to form a new county. Finally, the committee has not submitted the signatures of a majority of the voters living in proposed Cedar County."
  
   With these words the Supreme Court stripped from the citizens of this state their constitutional right to form a new county, handing this power, instead, directly to the legislature.
  
   Further, the Court redefined the number of signatures required to petition the Legislature to create a new county. The five counties formed since statehood were required only to submit the number of signatures equal to the majority of the number voting in the last general election.
  
   This Court now declares that the number of signatures must be equal to the majority of the total registered voter count in the territory to become the new county.
  
   Simply put, from this date forward the new method of establishing a county will be:
  1. Gather the majority of all registered voters' signatures in the territory to become the new county.
      
  2. Take these signatures to the Legislature to ask if they are interested in forming this county.
   Our attorney Rhys Sterling immediately filed a Motion for Reconsideration with the Court. This is the only means of appeal we have. As a state issue there is no link for a federal appeal. Our motion was denied by the court on March 11, 1998.
  
   The Cedar County Committee was astonished at seeing what it considers to be a 'politically correct' decision. We believe this decision fails to address the constitutional facts introduced by Mr. Sterling.
  
   Our committee has continued to explore all avenues of creating a new county. The only remedy found is a Constitutional Amendment which would override the Court's decision.
   We are fortunate to have two Representatives and two Senators committed to presenting such an amendment during the 1999 legislative session.
  
   This will be no small task as it requires a two thirds majority in both chambers to pass and be placed on the state-wide ballot in the 1999 general election.
  
   It does not require the Governor's signature. This will provide "We the People" the opportunity to regain our Constitutional right to form a new county. There will have to be compromises made in writing the bill, and it won't bring back the simple method envisioned by our founding fathers when they wrote Art. XI, Sec. 3. However, it will enable us to create a county.
  
   On May 19, 1998, Cedar County Committee concluded there was nothing further to be done and reluctantly voted to disband. When the Constitutional Amendment passes there will be reason for the reconsideration of new counties.
  
   By the end of August all work will have been completed to shut down the Cedar County Committee.
  
   The committee extends our most sincere thanks to all of you who have faithfully supported this six year undertaking. It was a worthy goal deserving of your time and financial support.
  
   Let us all now move forward with a new awareness of the importance of elected officials at both the legislative and judicial level. Cedar County enjoyed the full support of our legislators whose districts fell within its boundaries.
  
   The '98 campaigns are upon us; we need to remember these friends by helping ensure their re-election so that they can support the Constitutional amendment as it goes through the Legislature.
  
   Again, we express our appreciation to all of our supporters for standing firm in support of "We the People" to exercise our Constitutional right to establish Cedar County.
  
   Farewell from your Cedar County Committee.
   Verna Pearson, Issaquah