San Juan County Council members - Chair Christine Minney, Cindy Wolf and Jamie Stephens - voted August 2, 2022 to not forward four charter amendments to the auditor for placement on the November General Election ballot. The reason for the action was "that the second batch of proposed amendments does not conform with the procedural requirements of the San Juan County Charter." No further explanation was forthcoming.
Charter Commission members Maureen See and Sharon Abreu sued. The case was heard on August 15 in San Juan County Superior Court by Judge Christon C. Skinner. The Judge corrected the council's ballot error and the four amendments will appear on the November General Election ballot.
In his decision, Judge Christon C. Skinner wrote: The Council waited until August 2, 2022 to make its decision to reject the last four proposed amendments. This decision was based on the Council's erroneous conclusion and belief that the CRC members' term of office ended in July of 2021 and that any further submissions were procedurally invalid. Not only was this conclusion erroneous in the Court's view, but it was also not the Council's decision to make.
According to the court documents: "The CRC submitted its first installment of proposed charter amendments to the County Council on July 13, 2021. This submission was sent via email with the following communication to the Council: "It is important to note that these six proposed Amendments are not the final proposed Amendments the Charter Review Commission will submit this calendar year... The County Council should expect to receive additional proposed Charter Amendments at a future date for submission to the November 2022 General Election Ballot. The Charter Review Commission will formally notify the County Council at a future date when we submit our final proposed amendments, and our work is concluded."
"The CRC continued to conduct meetings in public after the first set of amendment proposals were submitted to the County Council. There is nothing in the record that demonstrates or even suggests that the Council or the San Juan County Prosecuting Attorney, Randy Gaylord, objected to the continuation of these meetings."
The council received received the final four amendments in December of 2021.
Seven months later, 45 minutes past its 4:30 p.m. August 2, 2022 deadline to submit the amendments to the county Auditor, the council reconvened after an executive decision and voted unanimously to not forward the amendments to the auditor.
Judge Skinner ordered San Juan County, the San Juan County Council, and the San Juan County Auditor to take all steps necessary to ensure that Propositions 1-4 frp, the San Juan County Charter Review Commission's December 13, 2021 Resolution appear on the November 2022 ballot, and that the required information about these propositions appear in a voters' pamphlet that is distributed to San Juan County voters in accordance with law.
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