Wednesday, Aug 24 2011 -
The San Juan County Canvassing Board earlier this week heard a challenge to the candidacy of Laura Jo Severson for Charter Review Commissioner. The Board unanimously determined that the candidate does meet eligibility requirements for the office, and dismissed the challenge to her candidacy.
The Charter, adopted by the voters in 2005, requires that five years after adoption the County Council call for election of a Charter Review Commission. Candidates for Charter Review Commissioner filed as candidates in June; the commission will be elected in the upcoming general election in November. The purpose of the CRC is to determine the adequacy and suitability of the Charter to the needs of the County. It may propose amendments to the Charter, which would be voted on at the next general election.
The Charter requires that candidates for Charter Review Commission “must be registered voters who have been residents of the County for at least five (5) years preceding their election.” The challenge, submitted by Shari and Harold Harrison, alleged that Ms. Severson does not meet the five-year residency requirement.
The County Charter does not specify the method for resolving a challenge to a person’s five-year residency. There is a process set up in state law (RCW 29A.08.810-850) to review challenges to a voter’s registration, and the County Canvass Board agreed to follow that procedure to handle this challenge to Ms. Severson’s residency.
The Canvassing Board is statutorily comprised of the County Auditor, the County Prosecutor, and Chair of the County Council. At the request of Auditor Milene Henley and with the agreement of Council Chair Lovel Pratt, Deputy Prosecutor Jon Cain presided over the hearing. Testimony focused on what constitutes residency and when Ms. Severson became a resident of San Juan County.
The Canvassing Board's official findings document is available here.