Granite Falls still trying to fill seat

By Leslie Moriarty

Herald Writer

GRANITE FALLS — City officials are attempting to determine how to fill a city council seat that is in limbo.

City clerk Gerry James said Friday that the city has asked the Snohomish County auditor to rule on whether the council needs to appoint someone to a seat that, by results of the Nov. 6 election, belongs to Heather Buchholz.

Although Buchholz won the election, she doesn’t reside in the city and therefore cannot serve, city attorney Cheryl Beyer said.

But Beyer said she wants the auditor to determine whether Buchholz’s position needs to be filled, or whether it belongs to the council member who held it prior to the election.

That member, Phil Dockendorff, did not run in the Nov. 6 race.

Buchholz won the election by 21 votes. Buchholz garnered 51 percent of the votes. Her opponent, Richard Smith, received 47 percent.

Buchholz’s residency was brought to the attention of the auditor’s office last October. The election canvassing board ruled that her true address was on Robe-Menzel Road, outside the city, although she filed for election with an address of 18905 Highway 92, inside the city.

By law, her name had to remain on the ballot.

Buchholz has said that she stays at her home inside the city weekdays and retreats to a rural home on weekends.

Buchholz refused to comment this week on the council race.

County elections manager Scott Konopasek said he thinks the council needs to appoint a new member. But he said the auditor’s office is double-checking with lawyers to confirm that. The city hopes to know by Monday.

If the council is told that it needs to appoint someone, it plans to take applications until mid -January.

Buchholz’s opponent, Smith, said he hasn’t decided if he will submit a letter applying for the council seat.

Dockendorff said he isn’t sure if he will apply because of health concerns, but has agreed to serve until it is sorted out.

While some have suggested just letting Smith have the position because he is the runner-up, James said election law doesn’t allow that.

Incumbents Matt Hartman and Cecil Koch are returning to the 2002 council. Newcomers are Ray Huff, Kevin Bloomsfield and the open seat. The city also has a new mayor, Butch DeRosia.

You can call Herald Writer Leslie Moriarty at 425-339-3436

or send e-mail to moriarty@heraldnet.com.

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