Primary loser eyes write-in candidacy

Pierce County Council candidate Randy Boss, who came in fifth in an eight-candidate race in the 7th District, is contemplating a write-in campaign in the Nov. 2 general election.

First, he must overcome a ruling from the county prosecutor’s office – backed by Pierce County Auditor Julie Anderson – that even if people write his name in on the ballot, the votes won’t count.

Boss, a commercial real estate broker and longtime community activist on the Gig Harbor peninsula, said Wednesday it’s a matter of free speech – and he believes the law is on his side. If people want to write in his name, he thinks their votes should be counted.

Although he called the law “ambiguous,” Boss said he believes a careful reading will prove it’s in his favor.

Anderson, citing a ruling from the Pierce County prosecutor’s office, told Boss in an e-mail exchange that state law won’t allow write-in votes for him to be counted. If you run and lose in the primary, you can’t get elected as a write-in candidate in the general, Anderson said.

According to primary election results certified by the auditor’s office this week, Boss came in fifth, behind Stan Flemming, Betty Ringleee, Todd Iverson and Bill Sehmel.

As the top two primary election vote-getters, Flemming, a University Place Republican, and Ringlee, a Gig Harbor area Democrat, are to face each other in the Nov. 2 general election.

Boss, a Republican, said he doesn’t think those two candidates give peninsula residents a good shot at the representation they deserve on the County Council.

“Eight people ran, and the votes were peanut-buttered all over the place,” he said.

In replies to Boss’ questions about his eligibility to run as a write-in in the general election, Anderson cited two sections of state law.

“Randy, you filed as a regular candidate for Pierce County Council in the August 17, 2010 primary election and your name appeared on the primary election ballot,” Anderson wrote.

“Accordingly, RCW 29A.60.021 and WAC 434-262-160 prohibit the Pierce County Auditor’s Office and the canvassing board from counting any write-in votes cast for you as a candidate for Pierce County Council,” she continued.

The county prosecutor’s office and the Secretary of State’s Office agree on the interpretation of the law, Anderson wrote.

Then she added, “Hope this helps, even though it was not the answer you hoped for.”

Boss sees things differently. He cites a portion of the state law dealing with the mechanics of write-in voting and how such votes should be counted as proof that he’s right.

“The County nor the state has no authority to ignore this law,” he wrote in an email to the newspaper.

Boss said he’s asked his own attorney to study the law. If his lawyer agrees with his own reading, Boss will hold a community meeting to discuss his candidacy and likely mount a fast and furious six-week write-in campaign, he said.