2006 Seattle Elections
General Elections Voters' Guide
Chrtr Am 7-Council Quorum Requirements - Ballot Title
The city council has proposed an amendment to Article IV Section 3 of the city charter concerning how a quorum of the city council is determined.
This amendment would change the charter to state that a council quorum is a majority of all nine councilmembers, with two exceptions: (1) To choose a person to fill a council vacancy, a quorum would be a majority of councilmembers holding office when the council chooses the new member; and (2) during declared emergencies, a quorum for all purposes would be a majority of councilmembers available to participate in council meetings and capable of performing their official duties.
Should this charter amendment be
1. The proposal
This amendment would provide more specific quorum requirements for the city council.
2. The charter as it currently exists
Article IV of the city charter deals with the legislative department, including the city council. The charter provides that the city council consists of nine members, and Section 3 of Article IV states that a quorum of the city council consists of a "majority of all members." The charter provides that the council may pass an ordinance only when at least a "majority of all members" vote in its favor. The charter also requires a majority vote of the council to take other specified actions, such as filling certain vacancies or confirming certain mayoral appointees.
Under most circumstances there are nine persons on the council and a quorum consists of five councilmembers-a majority of nine. However, the charter does not specify how a quorum is determined if there are fewer than nine persons on the council at a particular time-for example, if a councilmember has resigned and a replacement has not yet been chosen. The charter also does not specify how a quorum is determined if some members cannot participate in council business during an emergency. The charter does not explicitly state whether under those circumstances a "majority of all members" means a majority of the nine council seats, or a majority of members then on the council, or a majority of members capable of participating in council business.
3. The effect of this amendment if approved
Article IV Section 3 of the charter would be amended to explicitly state that a quorum of the city council consists of a majority of all nine members, with two exceptions.
The first exception would be non-emergency situations in which there is a vacancy on the council. When a council vacancy occurs, the remaining councilmembers choose a person to fill the vacancy until an election is held. The amendment to Article IV Section 3 would provide that in such situations a quorum for purposes of choosing a person to fill the vacancy would consist of a majority of councilmembers holding office at the time the council chooses the new member.
The second exception would be during emergencies declared by the mayor under the authority granted by the charter. Article IV Section 3 would be amended to provide that during such emergencies a council quorum for all purposes would consist of a majority of those councilmembers available to participate in council meetings and capable of performing the duties of office.