Parks primary vote unnecessary

"Hoping to save up to $3,500 in election costs by avoiding a primary election, the South Whidbey Parks and Recreation District commissioners tried last week to pass a resolution that would have ruled out a primary.The resolution failed because the motion that would have brought it to a vote was not seconded. As it turns out, that does not matter, because a 1996 state law prohibits park districts from holding primary elections anyway.Unfamiliar with this law, the commissioners were trying to save several thousand dollars in election expenses they believed a primary runoff would cost. In 1995, the Island County Auditor's Office required the district to hold a primary election at the cost of several thousand dollars. That was the last experience the parks district had with a primary election.Park board chairman Curt Gordon suggested the resolution at the board's regular meeting last Wednesday night. The resolution was based in research don by the district's former director, Jerry Cole. Gordon noted that three board positions - those held by himself, Jim Porter, and Dave Haworth - will be on the ballot in November. Gordon said listing all candidates for the positions in the general election would be less expensive.We'd just as soon forego the cost of a primary election, he said.Commissioner Tara Barlean made a motion to vote on the measure, but received no second. Porter said he would abstain from a vote because doing so would be a conflict of interest. He said he had no right to vote on a measure that could effect the outcome of an election in which he plans to participate.Commissioners Gordon and Arand, who both said they supported the resolution, remained silent when a second was needed.Island County Auditor Suzanne Sinclair said Thursday the commissioners need not worry about primary election expenses. Though state law requires almost every partisan and non-partisan election to narrow choices to two candidates for each office, Sinclair said parks districts and cemetery districts have been an exception for the past five years. They are forbidden from holding primary elections. Gordon said Monday that he was relieved that the primary election prohibition for his district exists.Sinclair said a primary for the South Whidbey Parks and Recreation District would cost between $2,500 and $3,500 if it were allowed. "

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