Charter and Council elections on same ballot raises questions

A change in state law moves candidate filing week up three weeks earlier this year to  May 14-18, 2012. Potential changes to the county's Charter raise questions pertaining to the three council member positions open this fall.

One of the purposes of the original Home Rule Charter movement was to have equal representation for each citizen. The Charter provides six districts designed to be of "nearly equal population."

The Charter Review Commission is expected to place before the voters a charter revision which would return the council to three full-time commissioners from three "whole-island" districts, similar to the old Commissioner districts.

This would provide unequal representation for citizens. The San Juan Island District Council member would represent three times as many residents as the Lopez/Shaw Island Council member but each council member would have one vote on the council. The situation is about 2:1 for Orcas:Lopez districts.

In order to make such a system legal, years ago the state legislature passed an exception to the equal representation law exclusively for San Juan Island.

If voters approve the CRC's recommendations, the current Council would be abolished just five months after the newly elected Council members are sworn in.

Elections for the new three-member Council would be held in February 2013 with run-off elections in April. The winners would take office on May 7, 2013 when the April election results are certified.

County offices open for filing this year are Superior Court Judge and County Council District 1 (San Juan South), District 3 (Friday Harbor), and District 4 (Orcas West).

To be on the ballot, each candidate must file a declaration of candidacy and pay a filing fee between May 14 and May 18.

San Juan County Elections Office will accept online candidate filing from 9 a.m. on Monday, May 14, through Friday, May 18, at 4 p.m.

In-person filings will be accepted Monday, May 14, at 8 a.m. through Friday, May 18, at 4:30 p.m.

Mail-in filings may be received no earlier than Monday, April 30, and no later than Friday, May 18.

The names of candidates facing two or more challengers will appear on the August 7 primary ballot. Offices with one or two candidates filed will go directly to the November 7 general election ballot. Candidates are encouraged to file online.

Candidates who file online will receive not only confirmation of their filing, but also updates when other candidates file for that office. Candidates may file online using either their personal computers or a computer set up in the Elections Office.

To file online, go to www.sanjuanco.com/elections and click "Candidate Filing."

If filing by mail, send forms to San Juan County Auditor, Elections Office, PO Box 638, Friday Harbor, WA 98250.

In-person filings forms should be taken to the Elections Office, 55 Second Street, Friday Harbor.

In addition to the Council and Superior Court positions, Democratic and Republican Precinct Committee Officers positions will also be open for filing.

The filing fee for San Juan County Council is $337.19 and for San Juan Superior Court Judge is $1,488.32. There is no filing fee for Precinct Committee Officer.

Those interested in running for office are encouraged to call the Elections Offices at (360) 378-3357 for more information.

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