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Bob Ferguson

AGLO 1970 No. 82 - May 26 1970
Attorney General Slade Gorton

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                                                                   May 26, 1970
Honorable Lowell Peterson
State Senator, 40th District
P.O. Box 188
Concrete, Washington 98237
                                                                                                               Cite as:  AGLO 1970 No. 82
Dear Senator Peterson:
            We acknowledge receipt of your letter dated May 22, 1970, requesting our opinion as to the capacity of certain county elected officials to serve, simultaneously, as state elected officials.
            Unfortunately, you have not specified in your letter the particular county and state offices with respect to which your request is concerned.  Of course, the principal legal issue raised by any question of dual office holding on the part of the same individual is that of whether the offices in question are incompatible under the common-law rule against the holding of two or more public offices the duties and functions of which are incompatible as a matter of public policy.
            With respect to this issue it has long been the position of this office that there is no incompatibility between the various local county or other municipal offices, generally, and a position in the state legislature.  See, AGO 61-62 No. 177 [[to Prosecuting Attorney, Benton County on November 21, 1962]], copy enclosed, for a discussion of this matter.  In addition, you will find enclosed a letter dated August 28, 1944, to the prosecuting attorney of Grays Harbor county, in which we concluded that the offices of state legislator and county superintendent of schools are not incompatible.
            However, if the state elected position you have in mind is not one in the state legislature, the conclusions reached in these two previous opinions would have no application ‑ and, instead, we would have to analyze the matter from the standpoint of the particular duties and functions of each of the offices (county and state) involved in the particular factual situation.
             [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]
            Accordingly, if the state elected position which you have in mind in making your request is a position in the state legislature, we may advise you, on the basis of the enclosed previous opinions, that no incompatibility exists so as to preclude the same individual from simultaneously serving in both positions.  However, if the state elected office is not a position in the legislature, and you desire us to pursue your question further, it will be necessary that you identify for us the specific county office presently held by the individual in question, and, as well, the state elective office which the person would desire to hold, if legally permissible.
Very truly yours,
Philip H. Austin
Assistant Attorney General