Court orders county to place Charter Review Commission propositions on ballot

Island County Superior Court Judge Christon C. Skinner ordered San Juan County, the San Juan County Council and the San Juan County Auditor to place four propositions submitted by the Charter Review Commission on the November 2022 ballot.

The county, council and auditor Milene Henley were sued by CRC Commissioners Maureen See and Sharon Abreu in early August. After an approximately hour-long hearing on Monday, Aug. 15, the court found that the county council erroneously refused to refer the proposed charter amendments to the auditor for inclusion on the November general election ballot.

In his decision filed by the court on Aug. 16, Judge Skinner wrote, “The council’s decision not to refer the four proposed amendments submitted in December of 2021 was contrary to the terms of the charter and amounts to a ballot error that should be corrected.”

Further, the court found that the council’s decision not to accept the CRC’s propositions based upon the belief that any further submissions by the CRC after their first submission was “erroneous in the court’s view, but it was also not the council’s decision to make.”

Following the court’s decision and order, the San Juan County Auditor’s office is actively in the process of taking all steps necessary to ensure the propositions appear on the November ballot. This includes preparing ballot titles for each of the propositions and preparing both pro and con statements to the four propositions submitted by the CRC for the voter’s pamphlet. In addition, the county’s attorney has been ordered to prepare concise statement portions of the ballot titles.

The four propositions were: Establishing a New Position of Public Advocate for the Purpose of Helping Citizens Navigate the San Juan County Systems; Amending language in the County Charter to provide clarification regarding budget provisions for the Charter Review Commission, staff support requirements, and further resolution regarding the term length, procedures and duties of the CRC, and the role of the Prosecuting Attorney; Amending the current voting rules to include Ranked Choice Voting; and Amending Signature Requirements Concerning Initiatives and Referendums.