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AGO 1958 No. 204 - June 18, 1958
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John J. O'Connell | 1957-1968 | Attorney General of Washington

ELECTIONS ‑- PARK AND RECREATION DISTRICT COMMISSIONERS ARE TO BE ELECTED IN CONJUNCTION WITH THE GENERAL ELECTION IN NOVEMBER.  OFFICES AND OFFICERS ‑- MUNICIPAL CORPORATIONS ‑- ELECTIONS ‑- PARK AND RECREATION DISTRICT COMMISSIONERS.

Elections for park and recreation district commissioners are to be held biennially in conjunction with the general election in November.

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                                                                   June 18, 1958

Honorable Mark Litchman, Jr.
State Representative, 45th District
800 American Building
Seattle 4, Washington                                                                                           Cite as:  AGO 57-58 No. 204

Dear Sir:

            You have requested an opinion from this office on a question which we paraphrase as follows:

            At what time are elections for park and recreation district commissioners to be held?

            Elections for park and recreation district commissioners are to be held biennially, in conjunction with the general election on the first Tuesday after the first Monday of November.

                                                                     ANALYSIS

            By chapter 58, Laws of 1957, the legislature authorized the formation of park and recreation districts, in class A counties, as municipal corporations for the purpose of providing leisure time activities and facilities.  As to the time provided for the election of park and recreation district commissioners pursuant to this act, there is an apparent conflict between the language of § 7 and § 9 of the act.

             [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]

            Section 7, chapter 58, Laws of 1957, reads in part as follows:

            "All elections pursuant to this act shall be conducted in accordance with the provisions of chapter 29.13 RCW. . . ."

            Section 9 of the act reads in part:

            "Elections for park and recreation district commissioners shall be held biennially in conjunction with the general election on the first Tuesday after the first Monday of November. . . ."

            Chapter 29.13 RCW is entitled "Times for Holding Elections and Primaries". RCW 29.13.020, entitled "Elections by lesser constituencies in class AA and class A counties‑-Special elections", reads in part as follows:

            "All city, town, school district, park district, river improvement district, commercial waterway district, water district, fire district, hospital district, ferry district, sewer district and all other municipal and district elections, . . . whether general or special, and whether for the election of municipal or district officers or for the submission to the voters of any city, town or district of any question for their adoption and approval, or rejection, shall be held in class AA or class A counties on the second Tuesday in March in the even numbered years: . . ."  (Emphasis supplied.)

            Obviously, then, there is an immediate ambiguity created since the time for holding elections as provided by RCW 29.13.020 and § 9, chapter 58, Laws of 1957, differs materially.

            In resolving this apparent inconsistency, the following rules of statutory interpretation are applicable.

            (1) Where a statute expresses first a general intent and afterwards an inconsistent particular intent, the latter will be taken as an exception from the former and both will stand.  In re North River Logging Co., 15 Wn. (2d) 204, 130 P. (2d) 64 (1942); 1 Lewis' Sutherland, Statutory Construction (2nd ed.) 513, § 268.

            (2) Where different parts or sections of the same statute are in conflict, the latest in order or position will prevail unless the first of the conflicting parts is clear and explicit and the other less so, in which event the former will prevail over the latter.  State v. Ayer, 9 Wn. (2d) 188, 114 P. (2d) 168 (1941); State ex rel. Tacoma R. & P. Co. v. Public Service Commission, 101 Wash. 601, 172 Pac. 890 (1918); Collins v. Bucoda, 191 Wash. 242, 70 P. (2d) 1062 (1937).

             [[Orig. Op. Page 3]]

            (3) Wherever possible, an act should be so construed as to give effect to each and every part of it.  State ex rel. Baisden v. Preston, 151 Wash. 175, 275 Pac. 81 (1929); Booth Fisheries Corp. v. Case, 182 Wash. 392, 47 P. (2d) 834 (1935);Martin v. Dept. of Social Security, 12 Wn. (2d) 329, 121 P. (2d) 394 (1942);Grove v. Meyers, 35 Wn. (2d) 403, 213 P. (2d) 483 (1950).

            (4) Where an act has a doubtful or ambiguous meaning, it is the duty of the courts to adopt a construction that is reasonably liberal in furtherance of the obvious or manifest purpose of the legislature.  State v. Houck, 32 Wn. (2d) 681, 203 P. (2d) 693 (1949).

            (5) In enacting legislation upon a particular subject, the lawmaking body is presumed to be familiar with its own prior legislation relating to that subject.  Graffell v. Honeysuckle, 30 Wn. (2d) 390, 191 P. (2d) 858 (1948); In re Levy, 23 Wn. (2d) 607, 161 P. (2d) 651 (1945);Sandahl v. Dept. of Labor and Industries, 170 Wash. 380, 16 P. (2d) 623 (1932).

            Applying these rules to the immediate situation, it is our conclusion that elections for park and recreation district commissioners must be held biennially in conjunction with the general election on the first Tuesday after the first Monday of November, pursuant to § 9, chapter 58, Laws of 1957.

            We hope the foregoing will be of assistance to you.

Very truly yours,

JOHN J. O'CONNELL
Attorney General

GERALD F. COLLIER
Assistant Attorney General

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