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AGO 1950 No. 411 - December 30, 1950
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Smith Troy | 1941-1952 | Attorney General of Washington

SCHOOLS ‑- ELECTIONS ‑- CANDIDATES ‑- FILING

The provisions of section 6, chapter 161, Laws of 1949 (Rem. Rev. Stat. 5166-4) relative to filing declarations of candidacy, controls and supersedes the provisions of section 5032, relative to nominative petitions for the election of directors in school districts of the first class in class A counties and counties of the first class.

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                                                               December 30, 1950

Honorable Hugh H. Evans
Prosecuting Attorney, Spokane County
Spokane, Washington                                                                                                              Cite as:  AGO 49-51 No. 411

Attention:  Mr. Earl W. Foster

Dear Sir:

            This is in reply to your letter of December 11, 1950, in which you requested our opinion on the question whether chapter 161, Laws of 1949, superseded section 15, chapter 90, Laws of 1919 (Rem. Rev. Stat. 5032) as to school districts of the first class in class A counties and counties of the first class.

            Our conclusion may be stated as follows:

            The provisions of section 6, chapter 161, Laws of 1949 (Rem. Rev. Stat. 5166-4) relative to filing declarations of candidacy, controls and supersedes the provisions of section 5032 relative to nominative petitions for the election of directors in school districts of the first class in class A counties and counties of the first class.

                                                                     ANALYSIS

            Rem. Rev. Stat., section 5032, provides in part:

            "The official ballot shall be printed and furnished * * * and shall contain * * * whose names have been presented by petitions signed by at least fifty registered voters, filed * * * not less than ten days before the day of election * * *."

             [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]

            Section 1, chapter 161, Laws of 1949, (Rem. Rev. Stat. 5144) provides in part:

            "All city, town, school district, park district * * * elections excepting * * * shall be held in class A counties and counties of the first class on the second Tuesday in March * * *."

            Section 5, chapter 161, Laws of 1949 (Rem. Rev. Stat. 5153-1) provides in part:

            "All elections held under section 1 of this act shall be conducted by the county auditor ex officio county supervisor of elections * * *."

            Section 6, chapter 161, Laws of 1949 (Rem. Rev. Stat. 6155-4) provides in part:

            "All candidates for district offices shall file declarations of candidacy not more than sixty (60) nor less than forty-five (45) days prior to the date of the election with the officer or board charged with the conduct of the election:  * * *."

            It appears clear that section 1 above establishes the time for holding school district elections in class A counties and counties of the first class.  Thus, section 1, having prescribed the time for holding school district elections in class A counties and first class counties, we feel that section 6 above was intended to provide the procedure for becoming a candidate in such elections.

            Our conversations with those who drafted chapter 161, Laws of 1949, indicate that it was their intention that section 6 above was to supersede the petition procedure prescribed in section 5032.  Although their intentions are not expressly manifested in section 6, we feel they are of some weight.  Furthermore, the conclusion herein is in accord with the interpretation given by the Superintendent of Public Instruction, as indicated by the attached memo dated 12/5/49.

            We are cognizant of the rule of statutory construction to the effect that repeals by implication are not readily presumed, and that a general statute does not repeal a special one, unless such is the plain legislative intent, even when their provisions are somewhat inconsistent.  Bank of Fairfield v. Spokane County, 173 Wash. 145, 22 P. (2d) 646.  However, we are only concluding that in light of the conflict between section 6 and section 5032, that the latter act should control and supersede section 5032.

             [[Orig. Op. Page 3]]

            InState ex rel. School District # 92 v. State Finance Committee, 178 Wash. 565, 35 P. (2d) 500, the court held that the language of section 1, chapter 29, Laws of 1933, providing "shall constitute the election board for all elections" was sweepingly broad and meant all elections.  We feel that the language of section 6, chapter 161, providing "all candidates for district offices" is likewise "sweepingly broad" and means all candidates, including candidates for the office of school director in class A and first class counties.  In the above case, the court found that section 1, chapter 29, Laws of 1933, which uses the language "all elections" referred to above, repealed the laws of 1921 and 1927 which provided for certain exceptions.  We feel this case is sufficient authority for our conclusion herein.

            However, it may be suggested that the proper approach would be to harmonize both of these sections and allow them both to stand.  In some situations this suggestion would be in accord with the cannons of statutory construction.  However, we feel this approach in this instance would present practical difficulties.

            For example, under section 5032, the petitions must be filed not less than ten days prior to the election.  Under section 6, chapter 161, the declarations of candidacy must be filed not less than forty-five days prior to the election.  If both sections are allowed to stand and neither controls, a candidate could file within the time prescribed by section 5032, but too late according to section 6, chapter 161.  Furthermore, a candidate following the procedure of section 6, could file his candidacy within the time prescribed by section 6, and also within the time prescribed by section 5032, but unless he also secured and filed a petition in addition to his declaration of candidacy, he would not be complying with section 5032.  Yet, a candidate intending to follow section 6, but filing late, could still become a candidate by securing a petition and having it filed prior to the ten-day period prescribed in section 5032.

            These practical problems, we feel, could be eliminated by concluding that section 6 supersedes section 5032.  Although no one has a vested right to be a school board director, a candidate should be able to know with reasonable certainty what the law requires of him and his opponent, and then be able to rely upon it.  Thus, we feel that harmonizing these two statutes is not the proper result.  Consequently, it is our opinion that a conflict exists between section 6 and section 5032, which we resolve by concluding that section 6 controls and supersedes section 5032, and candidates for the school board in class A counties and counties the first class must file their declarations of candidacy not less than forty-five days from the date of the election.

Very truly yours,

SMITH TROY
Attorney General

ROBERT L. SIMPSON
Assistant Attorney General

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