Tuesday February 9, 2016

Auditor Explains Council Election Procedures

By County Auditor Milene Henley -- The Charter Review Commission has proposed a significant change in the structure of county government.  If adopted, Proposition #1 would return the county from six district-elected Council members to three Council members elected county-wide.  As supervisor of elections, my interest in the election is ensuring that the process is understood, regardless of the outcome. 

Please note: This article should not be construed as an endorsement of approval or rejection of Proposition 1.  Its purpose is to clarify the statutory electoral process.
Should Proposition 1 be rejected, the Council will continue to consist of six members and the  three members elected in the November 6 election will take office in January and will serve full four-year terms.

Should Proposition 1 pass, the three newly-elected Council members elected will take office in January, but their terms will end in May, following the election in April of three new Council members to the three new Council positions.  Sitting Council members may choose to run for the new positions, but will, like other candidates, have to file to run again.

For the new positions, candidates must reside in the designated “residency districts,” but will be both nominated (in a “primary” election) and elected (in a “general” election) in county-wide elections.  The filing period for the new positions will be December 12-14, 2012.  Because this will be a filing period unique to San Juan County, neither online filing nor online payment of filing fees will be available.  All filings must be in person, by mail, or by electronic means (fax or email).   However a candidate files, the filing fee must be received in the Elections Office by 4:30 pm on Friday, December 14.

If three or more candidates file for any one of the three Council seats, there will be a countywide “primary” election on February 12 to winnow the field down to the top two candidates.  Positions for which only one or two candidates file will go straight to the April “general” election.  That election will take place on April 23.  Two weeks later, on May 7, the April election will be certified, and the new Council members will take office the following Monday, May 13.  At that time, the terms of the six sitting Council members will end.

Following the initial election in 2013, Council members will be elected at the normal August and November dates.  The next Council elections will take place in 2014 (for Lopez/Shaw) and 2016 (for San Juan and Orcas).

If you have any questions about the process, or would like more information on becoming a candidate, please contact me or elections staff at 378-3357.