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Friday, January 5, 1996 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Pam Pruitt Selected To Head County's Charter-Review Panel -- Group To Suggest Ways To Improve System

Seattle Times Snohomish County Bureau

EVERETT - After all the election-season talk about how Snohomish County's "constitution" might be improved, it's time to sit down and talk some more.

The county's new 15-member Charter Review Commission, elected in November from a pool of 88 candidates, last night spent its first meeting getting ready to get to work.

Next November, county voters will have the final say on whatever proposals the commission offers.

But before the commission struggles with the tough issues - such as whether to expand the County Council from five to seven members or make the county sheriff an appointive post - it must tussle with its own bureaucracy and politics.

So first came another election, this time for commission chair. Former Mill Creek Councilwoman Pam Pruitt, who had lobbied her peers for the position since the November election, got her wish last night.

For the next nine months, Pruitt will guide the high-powered group, which includes several former state legislators.

Two commission members, former state Rep. Hans Dunshee and labor leader Rosanne Rockwell, plan to run for state House seats this fall in the 39th District.

Two other commission members, former state Rep. Jim Johanson and former Snohomish County Deputy Prosecutor Patricia Brady, are considering campaigns this fall for the Superior Court bench.

Much of last night's 90-minute meeting was spent writing newspaper "want ads" for the jobs of commission attorney and commission administrator.

The only tense moment came when Deputy Prosecutor Rick Robertson, who's not a member, distributed a memo from his office recommending three candidates for the commission-attorney job.

County Prosecutor Jim Krider technically has the authority to make the appointment, Robertson reminded the commission.

Commission members relaxed after taking a closer look at the memo, which recommended Brad Cattle, Darrell Syferd or Hugh Spitzer.

"All three of them are outstanding; we couldn't do any better," said commission member Keith Wilson, a former Snohomish County court administrator.

However, the commission reaffirmed its commitment to an open hiring process.

The county charter, which went into effect in May 1980, requires a charter review every 10 years, following the initial review in 1986.

After seven months of meetings in 1986, changes were proposed

to make the jobs of county sheriff, clerk, auditor and treasurer elective rather than appointive offices.

Voters strongly opposed all four changes. The strongest majority, three-quarters, voted against letting the county executive choose the sheriff.

Copyright (c) 1996 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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