Conflict of interest|Letter

Conflict of interest|Letter

During the Women’s League of Voter’s Candidate’s forum for District 2 Candidates, there was a question as to whether council members who owned or operated a transient rental should recuse themselves from voting on legislation related to transient rentals. Apparently, council members who own or operate transient rentals had voted on related legislation.

The following is a quote from the County Commissioner Guide Published in 2015, Ethical Issues, Conflicts of Interest Page 27:

“Washington law governing conflicts of interest regarding municipalities is derived from the State Constitution, statutes, and from law made from court decisions (known as common law). The general rule from which our state’s conflict of interest law derives is that a municipal officer shall not use his or her position to secure special privileges or exemptions for himself, herself, or others. As expressed by our state supreme court over a century ago, the common law principle that a municipal officer is prohibited from adjudicating his or her own cause is “a maxim as old as the law itself.” Smith v. Centralia, 55 Wash. 573 (1909).

State law forbids county officials from having personal financial interests in public contracts made by, through, or under their supervision, regardless of whether or not they vote on the matter. There are some exceptions, based on contract amounts. Review the statute carefully and, when in doubt, consult with your county prosecutor. RCW 42.23.030.

State law regarding conflicts of interest is based on the fundamental principle that municipal officers hold a public trust and they are required to uphold that trust. These rules apply to real and perceived conflicts of interest and, as below described in more detail, include a prohibition against elected officials voting on matters in which they stand to benefit financially.”

For a more detailed overview, see Conflicts of Interest, MRSC, web.aspx.

This brought a lot of questions for me with regard to not only transient rental legislation but the increased development allowed by the new Shoreline Master Program and application of code enforcement regulations.

PS Vote Durland District 2.

Kat Fennell

Deer Harbor