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Husum-BZ council hopes for elections soon; petition seeks open nominations

Group of citizens look for answers

A group of citizens from the Husum-BZ Corner area has started a petition drive in an effort to speed resolution of the Husum-BZ Corner Community Council's suspended election process.

Backers of the petition hope to prod members of the Community Council to open the nomination process and set a date for elections for two open council seats.

"The petition is the work of half a dozen citizens," said Husum resident Jim Tindall.

Tindall submitted a letter of candidacy to run for one of the Community Council seats last fall, and said he remained a candidate.

The seven-member Husum-BZ Corner Community Council did not hold its scheduled vote last November due to uncertainty over how to hold its elections after the county switched to an all-mail ballot system. Before the county's move, voters within the boundaries covered by the Husum-BZ Corner Community Council cast their council election ballots at official county polling sites during general elections.

Further, council members pointed out that there was uncertainty about the precise boundaries of the council's district.

The terms of two Community Council members -- George Mersereau and Jim Fritchey -- have expired, but they are remaining in office pending a resolution of the council election process.

Jerry Smith, chair of the Community Council, said resolving the election issue has been on the council's agenda for the last few months.

"We're getting all the information we need from the county," Smith explained. "We have a big portion of it, and as soon as we put it all together, then we'll have an election."

Smith said the new election process will be entirely vote by mail, as is the case with the county elections.

The Klickitat County Auditor's Office recently supplied a list of registered voters within the Community Council's revised boundaries. That list will eventually be used to send ballots to eligible voters living within the council district.

The heading on the petition reads as follows:

"Understanding that the 2007 annual election was not held at its regularly scheduled time in November, we the undersigned respectfully request that the Husum/BZ Corner Community Council open nominations for the expired positions 4 and 5. We request nominations be open at the April 1, 2008, meeting, and close on May 6 at the regularly scheduled meeting."

Tindall urged the council to open the process.

"The boundaries of the area are expanding," Tindall said. "If there is anyone just finding out they live within the boundaries and want to represent their neighbors, what are they to do? I am still a candidate, and I know there are other folks who would like to run if it opens."

Tindall added that he believes the nominating process for the council elections needed to be clarified.

"Nominations were never opened or closed in a public session last year," Tindall said. "That's why this petition came up. If the council is having an election, there needs to be an avenue for welcoming candidates."

Last month, members of the group now circulating the petition attended the Community Council meeting and presented a proposal for how the elections could be conducted. Four citizens -- Tom Cope, Jan Muir, Jim Tindall, and Bernadette Williams -- offered an election proposal, titled "Husum-BZ elections: Plan of action."

The blueprint called for holding an election in a single location in Husum, and recommended the fire station.

The group suggested a two-day voting period -- on March 28, from 5 p.m.-9 p.m., and on March 29, from 9 a.m.-2 p.m.

"Voters will be required to show photo identification and proof of physical address, and may be asked to point out his or her place of residence on the map of the zone, which shall be prominently displayed at the polling place," read an excerpt from the group's council election proposal. "Residents 18 years of age or older may vote in this election."

"Our election plan was rejected. The logic for this was that the County Commissioners directed the Community Council recently to hold a mail-in election," said Tindall.

Smith said switching gears and setting up the new election arrangement has required a lot of thought and deliberation, but he does not expect the process to take much longer.

"We still need to finalize everything," Smith said. "It will probably be within 30 days or so. We hope so."


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