Law Says Council ‘Non-Candidate’ Bob Edgar Will Advance To General Election
With “non-candidate” Bob Edgar well in front in the primary contest for Burien City Council, as ballots cast in the Aug. 16 primary continue to be counted, local voters want to know:
If Edgar remains in the top two when election results are certified, which appears likely, will his name appear on the November general election ballot since he withdrew as a candidate in June?
If it does, and if he remains a non-candidate but wins the general election contest, will he then be elected to the city council anyway?
The answers are yes, and yes, according to King County Elections, the Secretary of State’s office, the Revised Code of Washington and the Washington Administrative Code.
Left unanswered, however, is whether non-candidate Edgar, if he wins election despite not campaigning, would then decline to be sworn in and not be seated on the new city council.
Or, in the meantime, will he reverse course, now declare himself a candidate after all, and campaign for the office?
Once again, Edgar apparently has little interest in letting Burien voters know what he’s up to. It was The B-Town Blog – not Edgar – who first reported that he had withdrawn as a city council candidate (read that report here).
And Thursday (Aug. 18), Edgar did not respond to repeated voice mails from The B-Town Blog asking for comments.
Currently he has received 44.83 percent of the vote for Position 4. Incumbent City Councilman Gordon Shaw has 38.19 percent, and challenger Joey Martinez has 16.15 percent.
Files, Then Withdraws
Edgar filed for the council seat with King County Elections prior to the June 10 deadline but, in a June 20 letter to the Washington Public Disclosure Commission (PDC), which monitors campaign financing, said he was withdrawing his name as a candidate.
His letter was sent to the PDC after the statutory deadline for candidates to withdraw and keep their names off the ballot, but before the deadline for filing his initial campaign information with the PDC. Here’s Edgar’s letter:
“I … contacted King County Elections and requested to withdraw from the upcoming election for the Burien City Council position No. 4,” Edgar wrote. “This letter has been written to meet this requirement of your offices.”
King County Elections had advised him to contact the PDC and state “that I would not be seeking office and would not be accepting and spending funds for this election. The PDC, in turn, told him he wouldn’t need to file candidate reporting forms with that agency.
State elections law – RCW 29A.24.131 and WAC 434-215-065 – mandates that because Edgar informed King County Elections he was pulling out of the race only after the June 16 deadline for withdrawal, his name must appear on the primary election ballot and, if he finishes in the top two, the November general election ballot as well.
His name also remains in King County Elections’ online voters’ guide as well as in the printed version:
Revised Code of Washington 29A.24.131
A candidate may withdraw his or her declaration of candidacy at any time before the close of business on the Thursday following the last day for candidates to file under RCW 29A.24.050 by filing, with the officer with whom the declaration of candidacy was filed, a signed request that his or her name not be printed on the ballot…. The filing officer may permit the withdrawal of a filing for any elected office of a city, town, or special district at the request of the candidate at any time before a primary if the primary ballots for that city, town, or special district have not been ordered.
Washington Administrative Code 434-215-065
Consistent with RCW 29A.24.131, a candidate may withdraw his or her declaration of candidacy at any time before the close of business on the Thursday following the last day for candidates to file. The candidate must file a signed request that his or her name not be printed on the ballot. This request to withdraw must be filed with the officer who accepted the declaration of candidacy and, once filed, cannot be revoked…. The filing officer has discretion to permit the withdrawal of a filing for any elected office of a city, town, or special district at the request of the candidate at any time before a primary if the primary election ballots have not been formatted.
County, State Officials Comment
Therefore, said Kathy Streit, spokeswoman for King County Elections, “legally [Edgar] did not withdraw … candidates have to do it within the withdrawal period….
“So his name went on the primary ballot. If he finishes in the top two, he proceeds on to the general election. If he wins he can elect not to take office. It’s up to him.”
The early deadline for withdrawal is needed “because ballot formatting begins immediately” after that, added Katie Blinn, co-drector of elections with the Secretary of State’s office. “It has to be done by the drop-dead date.”
Blinn also said Edgar’s name, even as a non-candidate, will be on the general election ballot. If he wins, “it is up to him if he wants to take office.” If he declined, that would create a vacancy on the city council.
PDC spokeswoman Lori Anderson said every year a candidate files, then looks at the personal financial information required by her office, and decides to withdraw – but does so after the deadline for withdrawal.
And, continued Anderson, should Edgar – after having given notice he was pulling out of the race – win the general election then decide to take office and be sworn in, “it would be the first time in my 12 years with the PDC” that a candidate in this circumstance chose to be seated.
Should Edgar win the general election, even if he did not solicit, receive or spend campaign funds, and did not campaign for office, PDC “staff would have to decide what to do in that situation,” Anderson said.
It is possible “there could be some infringement [of campaign laws] for not filing [required candidate reports] all along.”