Thurston County’s Canvassing Board decided Wednesday that Olympia City Council candidate Lisa Parshley is legally registered to vote at an address on Olympia’s Fourth Avenue East.
Parshley’s voter registration was called into question on Sept. 27 when Olympia resident Michael Snodgrass filed a voter registry challenge. Snodgrass alleged that Parshley didn’t live in the Olympia building — which also contains her campaign office — and actually lives in the Boston Harbor area. He argued that the Fourth Avenue building is zoned only for commercial use, that Parshley was previously registered to vote at the Boston Harbor home, and that her vehicle is registered at the Boston Harbor address.
Parshley said that she has lived in the Fourth Avenue building since 2014 to be closer to her downtown veterinary businesses. She said in a Monday hearing that the building doesn’t have a kitchen, but she uses one at the nearby veterinary clinic. She and her husband sleep in an upstairs room.
Parshley and her husband own a portion of a Boston Harbor house, purchased by her parents in the 1960s. She said they purchased about 80 percent of the property when her parents moved out because of health problems. Thurston County Assessor’s Office records show that a portion of the property is held in trust — Parshley says about 20 percent.
Under the Canvassing Board’s challenge process, it was up to Snodgrass to prove that Parshley didn’t actually live at the Fourth Avenue address. The board found that while Parshley may be living in the building in violation of city code or her lease agreement, she’s not violating the state’s voter registry guidelines.
“The state’s election laws recognize that a person cannot be disqualified to vote because he or she ‘lacks a traditional residential address,’” the decision reads.
Snodgrass also was a candidate for Olympia City Council this year, but lost in the primary to Renata Rollins and Jeannine Roe in the Position 6 race. Parshley is running against Allen Miller in the Position 5 race, and beat out Deborah Lee in the primary.
The board’s decision has no bearing on whether Parshley can run for or hold public office in Olympia.
“It is important to note that this board is not deciding or commenting in any way on the issue of Ms. Parshley’s eligibility to be a candidate for office. Such a determination does not fall within the authority of this board. ... Our decision is limited only to the determination of the validity of her current voter registration at the time the challenge was lodged,” the decision reads.
Any challenge to Parshley’s candidacy would have to be made in Thurston County Superior Court.
Such a challenge last happened in Thurston County in 2012, when Christine Schaller was a Thurston County Superior Court judicial candidate. Two of Schaller’s opponents filed a petition challenging her eligibility on the grounds that she lived in Pierce County, according to The Olympian’s archives.
Schaller ultimately won the election, and the Washington Supreme Court ruled that she was eligible to serve as a Thurston County judge despite her residency elsewhere.
Steve Hall, Olympia’s city manager, said that no non-Olympia resident has been elected to the Olympia City Council since he joined the city’s staff in 1990.