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AGLO 1970 No. 132 - October 09, 1970
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Slade Gorton | 1969-1980 | Attorney General of Washington
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                                                                 October 9, 1970
 
 
 
Honorable Jay Roy Jones
Prosecuting Attorney
Asotin County
P.O. Box 80
Asotin, Washington 99402
                                                                                                             Cite as:  AGLO 1970 No. 132
 
 
Dear Sir:
 
            In response to your latest letter of October 7, 1970, regarding the occupancy of the Asotin county sheriff's office following the anticipated resignation of the incumbent on October 15, 1970, we refer you to the decision of the Washington Supreme Court in State ex rel. Sears v. Gilliam, 93 Wash. 248, 160 Pac. 757 (1916).
 
                                                                     ANALYSIS
 
            In that case, based upon several prior decisions also involving the terms of persons appointed to fill vacancies in certain public offices, the court recognized and described the phenomenon of "short terms" and "long terms."  This phenomenon arises whenever the election to fill the remainder of an unexpired term coincides with the election to fill the next full term of a particular office.
 
            Based upon this decision, and the reasoning thereof, it would be our opinion that the person appointed by the Asotin county commissioners to fill the vacancy in the office of county sheriff which is scheduled to occur on the 15th of the month will serve until a successor is elected and qualified at the November 3, 1970 election, if any person is elected to serve for the "short term" ‑ i.e., the interregnum between the election and the commencement of the next full term on the second Monday in January of 1971.  On the other hand, if no person is elected for this "short term," because no person filed therefor, the person appointed by the county commissioners to fill the vacancy should be regarded as being entitled to continue in office until the commencement of the next full term in January  [[Orig. Op. Page 2]] of 1971.
 
            It is hoped that the foregoing will be of some assistance to you.
 
Very truly yours,
 
FOR THE ATTORNEY GENERAL
 
 
Philip H. Austin
Assistant Attorney General
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