A proposal to ban the personal use of fireworks in Tumwater passed in the Nov. 8 election. But it was by a whisker — 78 votes.
Members of the City Council asked voters to decide the thorny issue, because they couldn’t reach agreement among themselves. The outcome shows the city is truly divided on this question.
In its resolution placing the advisory measure on the ballot, the council pledged to follow the majority’s wishes.
Elections are usually winner-take-all. But as noted by David Nicandri, an opponent of the ban, the council’s resolution mentions a majority of “electors” voting in the election. This may be construed to mean every voter that returned a ballot, or even everyone eligible to vote.
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Under the first scenario, it means that fewer than half of voters who returned ballots actually voted for the ban, because 480 voters left that question blank. Thus, a 48.3 percent plurality favored the ban, not a majority.
Whether that fact is enough to free the City Council from having to ban all fireworks, the question deserves a fair airing.
Nicandri wants to find a middle ground. He suggests limiting fireworks to just sparklers and small novelty items like bees or worms, and to allow them only after 5 p.m. on the Fourth of July.
Council members ought to at least pause and talk it over first — before passing an ordinance Tuesday night that enacts a complete ban.