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Parks director to issue apology over campaign work

South Whidbey Parks & Recreation director Terri Arnold will issue a letter of apology to the community and reimburse the parks district for the time she spent campaigning for the proposed pool and community recreation center from the park office during business hours, the board of commissioners has announced.

In addition, Arnold and park staff will receive training about the state law which prohibits public employees from using public facilities for the promotion of any ballot issue.

On Friday, Sept. 5 Arnold sent a letter to the media that she wrote asking voters to approve the district's November ballot measure.

"I hope you will use not only your pen but your heart when you get your ballot and cast a ‘Yes' vote for the Community Recreation Center," Arnold's letter said. [To read the complete letter, click here.]

Using public facilities to advocate a ballot measure position is a clear violation of Washington's campaign laws, according to the Washington Public Disclosure Commission. The law prohibits the use of public facilities, such as district computers, to support or oppose a ballot proposition.

The park district is asking voters to approve a $15.4 million bond to pay for the construction of an aquatics and recreation center on Nov. 4.

"Terri is overtly enthusiastic about Parks & Rec," said Park Commissioner Linda Kast. "She is fully aware that as director, she has to strike a balance between her energy and her professional obligations."

Kast added that the board supports Arnold in her work for the district.

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