A link to the Kitsap Sun’s story about nine applicants for a vacant seat on the Port Orchard City Council hadn’t been up on Facebook for half an hour, when some one questioned the residency status of one of the candidates.
The district 3 seat was vacated at the start of 2016 by Rob Putaansuu, who was elected mayor in November.
The council will fill the vacancy by choosing from among the pool of applicants. Monday was the deadline to submit a resume, letter of interest and answers to written questions from the council. The council will interview applicants on Thursday, beginning at 9 a.m. at city hall. All interviews are open to the public. The council likely will make the appointment at the Jan. 12 regular council meeting.
To be eligible for city council, an applicant must be a registered voter and resident of the city. State law prohibits felons from holding elected office. The city of Port Orchard does not have districts or wards, so anyone living within city limits is eligible for the district 3 seat … or any other seat.
During election season, we reported on a residency challenge against Port of Bremerton candidate John Poppe. The story, by Tad Sooter, illustrates how, as Kitsap County Elections Manager Kyle Joyce puts it, state law puts the onus on the person making the challenge to prove a candidate does not live at his or her stated address.
Poppe told the Kitsap Sun he moved to the Chico Way address listed on his candidate registration specifically so he could run for the Bremerton port commission seat while maintaining his standing as a Silverdale Water District commissioner. Kitsap County Auditor Dolores Gilmore ruled in Poppe’s favor, saying challenger Roger Zabinski failed to present “clear and convincing evidence” Poppe didn’t live on Chico Way.
The city of Port Orchard determined some applicants for the city council position were ineligible because they live outside city limits. City Clerk Brandy Rinearson said her office used the Kitsap County parcel search function to confirm the location of applicants’ homes. In one case, where the applicant’s listed address was close to the city limit, Rinearson verified through the Kitsap County Elections’ Division that he lived just outside the city.
Rinearson then verified through the Kitsap County Auditor (Elections Division) that the remaining applicants are registered voters within the city of Port Orchard.
The Auditor’s Office does not ask people for proof of residency when they register to vote, Joyce said. The voter registration form requires a signature attesting to the truth of the information provided.
“Should a citizen have concerns, they can reach out to me or the Kitsap County Elections department to receive a form for challenging,” Rinearson said, in an emailed response to the Kitsap Sun and others with questions about residency verification. “Please let me know if you have any additional questions or need anything further.”
Rinearson may be reached at (360) 876-7030. The elections division is at (360) 337-7129.