Opinion

Filing 101: an election primer

It may not be intuitively apparent that to learn about city elections, you have to call the county.

So we have concluded, after speaking with several readers who sojourned to City Hall last week but could find precious little information on upcoming council races and how to file for such. Their inquiries were made on behalf of friends, would-be candidates who were mulling bids for local office but had no idea how to go about it.

As noted in this space in last Saturday’s edition, our local League of Women Voters chapter has slated a workshop this weekend, to answer any and all questions on filing fees, financial disclosure and the other formalities that come with running for office. (The event runs from 10 a.m. to noon June 28 in the Bainbridge Commons in Waterfront Park.) Well and good.

But while conceding that managing elections is the county’s business, wouldn’t it be handy, our correspondents asked, if there were at least information packets available for distribution at our own City Hall? We found it hard to disagree, given that all-island government was predicated largly on the desire to cut down on the waste of gas and tire rubber on drives to the county courthouse in Port Orchard.

So while we don’t mean to trump Saturday’s workshop – by all means, go – our correspondents suggested that in might be in the public interest to make some of the most rudimentary information available here. Typical questions going around the community these days might include:

What are the qualifcations? For council seats, candidates must be registered voters and must have resided on the island for at least one year. Also, they must live within the defined council district they seek to represent at the time of filing. (Candidates for the new at-large seat can live anywhere.)

When is the filing period? July 28 to Aug. 1. The Kitsap County Elections Office is at 1026 Sidney Ave. in Port Orchard, and is open during normal business hours (toll-free telephone number: 842-2061).

Must I go to Port Orchard to file for office? Most candidates seem to do so for the sake of ritual if nothing else, but you can actually file by mail – even by fax, provided you give elections officials a notarized original of your filing document.

How much does it cost to file? That varies as a percentage of how much each office pays. For council seats, the fee is $72; for others, a mere $10.

What about financial disclosure? The state requires several not-too-invasive declarations about your personal affairs.

Pretty straightforward. All of this information (and more) can be found in three pamphlets: the “Kitsap County Election Guidelines for 2003,” the “2003 Kitsap County Local Voters’ Pamphlet and Online Voters’ Guide Advisory Committee Questions,” and the “Washington State Public Disclosure Commission Personal Financial Affairs Statement.”

As our good correspondents found, the county elections division in Port Orchard is rightly the correct resource for election information and counsel. At the same time, perhaps a few dozen of these pamphlets could be assembled in packets for distribution at City Hall, for quick access and review.

Might the League take the lead?

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