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Anderson or Johnston in line to be next county commissioner

Struck retires in December

With Klickitat County Commissioner Don Struck set to leave office at the end of December, local Republicans have settled on two candidates as potential replacements come January.

In a recent vote by Republican precinct committee officers (PCOs), two names were forwarded for consideration by the Klickitat County Board of Commissioners, who have the final say on which name will be chosen for what will essentially be a one-year appointment.

Barring something unforeseen, the next commissioner will be either Husum resident Jacob Anderson or White Salmon resident Rex Johnston.

"Only two people came forward," said Klickitat County Auditor Brenda Sorenson, an elected Republican official. "I was at the meeting when the two came and made their presentations."

According to Sorenson, the PCOs voted to rank the two candidates, and Anderson was the top choice.

The local Republican Party chooses the candidates to fill out the remainder of Don Struck's current four-year term, because Struck is a Republican.

The Washington Constitution stipulates that when there is a resignation in an unexpired term, the political party he or she belongs to gets to determine the names of three qualified citizens to possibly serve as the replacement until the next election. The process is spelled out in Article II, Section 15, which deals with vacancies in elective offices:

"Such vacancies as may occur in either house of the legislature or in any partisan county elective office shall be filled by appointment by the county legislative authority of the county in which the vacancy occurs: Provided, that the person appointed to fill the vacancy must be from the same legislative district, county, or county commissioner or council district and the same political party as the legislator or partisan county elective officer whose office has been vacated, and shall be one of three persons who shall be nominated by the county central committee of that party," reads an excerpt.

If a majority of the members of the county legislative authority (in this case, the Klickitat County Board of Commissioners) do not agree upon the appointment within 60 days after the vacancy occurs, the governor would have 30 days to select a name from the list of nominees provided by Republican Party officials.

Although only two individuals came forward to be considered, Klickitat County Prosecuting Attorney Tim O'Neill said there was no legal requirement to submit three names.

"I'm unaware of there being any problem," O'Neill said. "Three were going to seek the seat, but one bailed out, leaving only two."

The third candidate was not identified.

According to O'Neill, the vote by the County Commissioners on choosing a replacement will come within 60 days after the retirement of Commissioner Struck.

Struck, a White Salmon resident who has served as commissioner since 1999, announced in August that he had decided not to seek another term on the three-member Board of County Commissioners. At that time, he set his resignation date for the end of 2007.

The other two commissioners -- Ray Thayer and Dave Sauter -- are also both Republicans.

"The remaining two commissioners make the vote," O'Neill said. "That can't take place until Jan. 1."

The position now being filled by appointment will be on the general election ballot in 2008. At that time, the decision as to who will serve as commissioner for a full four-year term will be decided by the county's voters.

Laura Cheney, chair of the Klickitat County Republican Party, could not be reached for comment by press time on Tuesday.


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