Opinion: For charter county
For a charter county
To the editor,
Many people ask proponents of Measure W what’s the purpose of a charter and why we want Mendocino to become a charter county. Those are fair questions.
The dictionary defines a charter as a document granting certain specified rights, powers, privileges, or functions from the sovereign power of a state to an individual, corporation, city, or other unit of local organization.
Looking back through history, one of the most famous charters was the Magna Carta, which established for the first time that the king, as well as everybody else, was subject to the law. That particular charter in 1215 was a compact to settle grievances between the English barons and King John. Although most of the text was rewritten within 10 years, the principle that the ruling power can’t ignore the raised voice of the people has remained.
So what meaning does that piece of history have for us today as we come up to the June election? For me, it’s a good example of the way things change over time, and the necessity for finding new solutions as new situations arise. What doesn’t change is that it’s always up to the People to claim and reclaim their right to have a say in the way they are governed.
It’s important to note that voting for Measure W does not create a charter. It’s just a statement that we would like Mendocino to become California’s 15th charter county. On the same ballot we can vote for the 15 people who will become charter commissioners and write a draft charter which will be voted on by the citizens of Mendocino County in a future election.
After being elected, the charter commissioners will gather input from people all over the county as to what they would like to have included in the charter. Legally, a charter can include all provisions not in conflict with the State’s Constitution. And once the charter is passed, these provisions have the same force and effect of legislative enactments.
Voting Yes on Measure W is a recognition that Mendocino is a unique county with its own specific needs that aren’t necessarily being served as a one-size-fits-all general law county. Voting yes will help open the door to participatory democracy.