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August 17, 1970
Honorable Lawrence J. Faulk
State Senator, Twenty-sixth Dist.
3932 North Mason
Tacoma, Washington 98406
Cite as: AGLO 1970 No. 112
This is written in response to your recent letter requesting our advice on a question pertaining to the election of members of a "Community Council." You have asked:
"Can the election of members of Community Councils or Community Forums be held commensurate with a state general election? If so, what is the proper procedure?
It is assumed that your question relates to the election of officers of those community municipal corporations provided for in chapter 73, Laws of 1967 (codified as chapter 35.14 RCW). See AGO 1967 No. 41, copy enclosed, at pages 7-9, for a resume of this legislation. There, we said:
"Briefly, the 1967 act to which you have referred applies in the following three situations:
"(1) Whenever cities are consolidated;
"(2) Whenever cities of the third or fourth class are annexed to a first class city; and
"(3) Whenever unincorporated territory is annexed to any existing city. See, § 1, chapter 73, Laws of 1967.
"At the time of the election on the question of consolidation or annexation, a vote is also to take place, either as part of the same proposition or as a separate proposition, on the question of whether (in the case of consolidation) a community [[Orig. Op. Page 2]] municipal corporation is to be created covering the territory of the least populous of the two cities, or (in the case of annexation of a third or fourth class city by a first class city) a community municipal corporation is to be formed covering the territory of the annexed third or fourth class city, or (in the case of annexation of unincorporated areas) whether a community municipal corporation is to be formed covering the area of the annexed unincorporated territory. Initially, each community municipal corporation thus formed is to be governed by a community council which, in the first two categories of cases, will be comprised of the governing body of the former city or town which has been consolidated or annexed; in the case of annexation of unincorporated territory, the community municipal corporation council, if such a corporation is established, will consist of five members who are to be elected at the time of the annexation election. See, in general, §§ 2, and 7-14 of the act."
Section 6 of the act, specifically, spells out the initial duration of a community municipal corporation thus formed ‑ together with the electoral process to be followed in order to continue it in existence, as follows:
"The original terms of existence of any community municipal corporation shall be for at least four years and until the first Monday in January next following a regular municipal election held in the city.
"Any such community municipal corporation may be continued thereafter for additional periods of four years' duration with the approval of the voters at an election held and conducted in the manner provided for in this section.
[[Orig. Op. Page 3]] "Authorization for a community municipal corporation to continue its term of existence for each additional period of four years may be initiated pursuant to resolution or a petition in the following manner:
"(1) A resolution praying for such continuation may be adopted by the community council and shall be filed not less than seven months prior to the end of the term of existence of such corporation with the city council or other legislative body of the city in which the service area is located.
"(2) A petition for continuation shall be signed by at least ten percent of the registered voters residing within the service area and shall be filed not less than six months prior to the end of the term of existence of such corporation with the city council or other legislative body of the city in which the service area is located.
"At the same election at which a proposition is submitted to the voters of the service area for the continuation of the community municipal corporation for an additional period of four years, the community council members of such municipal corporation shall be elected. The positions on such council shall be the same in number as the original or initial council and shall be numbered consecutively and elected at large. Declarations of candidacy and withdrawals shall be in the same manner as is provided for members of the city council or other legislative body of the city.
"Upon receipt of a petition, the city clerk shall examine the signatures thereon and certify to the sufficiency thereof. No person may withdraw his name from a petition after it has been filed.
[[Orig. Op. Page 4]] "Upon receipt of a valid resolution or upon duly certifying a petition for continuation of a community municipal corporation, the city clerk with whom the resolution or petition was filed shall cause a proposition on continuation of the term of existence of the community municipal corporation to be placed on the ballot at the next city general election. No person shall be eligible to vote on such proposition at such election unless he is a qualified voter and resident of the service area.
"The ballots shall contain the words 'For continuation of community municipal corporation' and 'Against continuation of community municipal corporation' or words equivalent thereto, and shall also contain the names of the candidates to be voted for to fill the positions on the community council. The names of all candidates to be voted upon shall be printed on the ballot alphabetically in groups under the numbered position on the council for which they are candidates.
"If the results of the election as certified by the county canvassing board reveal that a majority of the votes cast are for continuation, the municipal corporation shall continue in existence for an additional period of four years, and certificates of election shall be issued to the successful candidates who shall assume office at the same time as members of the city council or other legislative body of the city." (Emphasis supplied.)
In relation to your question, the particular point we derive from this statute is that the legislature has established an electoral process ‑ both for the continuation of community municipal corporations and for the [[Orig. Op. Page 5]] election of council members ‑ which is keyed to the election calendar of the city involved, rather than to the state general election calendar. And, of course, city elections under the provisions of our state elections code1/ are conducted in November of each odd-numbered year; whereas, state elections are conducted in the even-numbered years.
Accordingly, it would be our opinion that under the present terms of the governing legislation, elections of the members of a community council may not be held in conjunction with a state general election. We therefore answer your question in the negative.
We trust that the foregoing will be of assistance to you.
Very truly yours,
FOR THE ATTORNEY GENERAL
Philip H. Austin
Assistant Attorney General
*** FOOTNOTES ***
1/See RCW 29.13.020.