Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson

AGLO 1972 No. 55 -
Attorney General Slade Gorton

- - - - - - - - - - - - -
                                                                    July 12, 1972
Honorable R. Frank Atwood
State Senator, 42nd Dist.
220 Bellingham National Bank Bldg.
Bellingham, Washington 98225
                                                                                            Cite as:  AGLO 1972 No. 55 (not official)
Dear Sir:
            We are in receipt of your recent letter requesting our opinion on a question relating to the current status of a certain member of the board of commissioners of a water district in Whatcom county.
            On its face, your question is whether the purported resignation of a public officer, in order to be effective, must be accepted by the authority to which it is submitted.  You have cited the decision of the Washington supreme court in State ex rel. Royse v. Superior Court, 46 Wash. 616, 91 Pac. 4 (1907), as bearing upon this question ‑ and we agree.
            In this early case the Washington court adhered to the majority rule from other jurisdictions to the effect that in the absence of a statute to the contrary, an acceptance of the resignation of a public officer is necessary in order to create a vacancy.  We have found no evidence that this decision has even been rejected in any subsequent decisions of the court and thus we regard it as still constituting a correct statement of the law in this state.
            Additionally we have searched without success for any legislative enactments which would require a different answer ‑ either in terms of public officers generally or in terms of, specifically, the officers of a water district.  Having found none, and being satisfied that State ex rel. Royse v. Superior Court, supra, is still "good law," we answer your general question in the negative.  In our opinion, the resignation of the member of a board of commissioners of a water district is not effective until it has been accepted by the remaining commissioners (i.e., the appointing authority) to whom it is to be submitted under the provisions of RCW 42.12.020.
             [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]    We trust that the foregoing will be of some assistance to you.
Very truly yours,
Philip H. Austin
Deputy Attorney General