By F. Milene Henley, San Juan County auditor
The Charter Review Commission has proposed a significant change in the structure of county government.
If adopted, Proposition 1 would return the county from six district-elected council members to three council members elected countywide. As supervisor of elections, my interest in the election is ensuring that the process is understood, regardless of the outcome.
Please note: This article should not be construed as an endorsement of approval or rejection of Proposition 1. It's purpose is to clarify the statutory electoral process.
Should Proposition 1 be rejected, the council will continue to consist of six members and the three members elected in the Nov. 6 election will take office in January and will serve full four-year terms.
Should Proposition 1 pass, the three newly elected council members will take office in January, but their terms will end in May, following an election in April of three new council members to the three new council positions. Sitting council members may choose to run for the new positions, but would, like other candidates, have to file to run again.
For the new positions, candidates must reside in the designated “residency districts,” but would be both nominated (in a “primary” election) and elected (in a “general” election) in countywide elections. The filing period for the new positions would be Dec. 12-14, 2012.
Because this would be a filing period unique to San Juan County, neither online filing nor online payment of filing fees would be available. All filings must be in person, by mail, or by electronic means (fax or email). However a candidate files, the filing fee must be received in the Elections Office by 4:30 p.m., Friday, Dec. 14.
If three or more candidates file for any one of the three council seats, there would be a countywide “primary” election on Feb. 12 to winnow the field down to the top two candidates.
Positions for which only one or two candidates file would go straight to the April “general” election. That election would take place on April 23.
Two weeks later, on May 7, the April election would be certified, and the new council members would take office the following Monday, May 13. At that time, the terms of the six sitting council members would end.
Following the initial election in 2013, council members would be elected at the normal August and November dates. The next council elections would take place in 2014 (for Lopez/Shaw) and 2016 (for San Juan and Orcas).
If you have any questions about the process, or would like more information on becoming a candidate, please contact me or elections staff at 378-3357.