South Whidbey Record


LETTER TO THE EDITOR | Chairperson laws misunderstood

September 1, 2013 · Updated 3:47 PM


Apparently, some of your readers misconstrue the premise of the lawsuit I recently filed naming Island County Commissioners Helen Price Johnson and Jill Johnson.

For example, Sanford Harris’ recent letter suggests this lawsuit challenges a “custom or habit that people ought to not be considered for chairman of the commissioners in their first year,” which he calls “silly.”

In reality, state law is germane, which is not silly. RCW 36.32.100 clearly states “The board of county commissioners at their first session after the general election shall elect one of its number to preside at its meetings.”

A general election occurs each and every November. The board meets in session every week, usually twice weekly. Newly-elected commissioners do not assume office until Jan. 1, much later. It is therefore a legal impossibility for a first-year, first-term commissioner to be elected chair under RCW 36.32.100.

RCW 36.32.100 mandates when chair election shall occur. It does not authorize chair elections at other times. There is no Island County code which presumes to authorize the commissioners to hold such additional chair elections. County commissioners must follow state law. When they ignore it, and the citizenry allows it, they make fools of the citizenry.

Mr. Harris also asks, “What happens in the event all three county commissioners are first-year first termers?”

RCW 36.32.030 clearly states, “the terms shall be staggered so that either one or two commissioners are elected at a general election held in an even-numbered year.”

Mr. Harris’ scenario is a nonsequitur.


Oak Harbor


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