By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News
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Jefferson County Auditor Donna Eldridge last week certified signatures on petitions on submitted on Sept. 10 that call for a recall election that would remove Dave Ward and Mike Whittaker as commissioners on the Quilcene Fire District board, which has three members.
Whittaker and Ward have been under fire since 2010 over allegations of impropriety regarding the creation of a chief operating officer job for the fire district and the hiring of Ward for that position.
The military ballots of the single-issue all-mail election will be mailed on Oct. 12 and mailed to other registered voters on Oct. 24, said Karen Cartmel, elections supervisor.
The required number of signatures on the petition is based on a percentage of votes cast in the last election.
Both commissioners were unopposed then, with Whittaker getting 554 votes in 2009 and Ward receiving 510 votes in 2007.
For the recall to go forward, proponents needed to gather 194 signatures to recall Whittaker and 179 to recall Ward.
Petitioners gathered 242 to recall Whittaker and 244 to recall Ward.
Eldridge certified 215 signatures in the action against Whittaker and 220 against Ward.
Eldridge said the remaining signatures were not examined because the requirement threshold had been met.
A campaign strategy has not yet been determined, said Linda Saunders, but the group wants to avoid confusion with the general election scheduled Nov. 6.
Ballots will be sent to the approximately 1,360 voters in the Quilcene Fire District.
Shane Seaman. attorney for Whittaker and Ward, said he felt the voters will vindicate his clients and the recall will not succeed.
“Mr. Ward and Mr. Whittaker maintain they did nothing wrong or unlawful,” Seaman said in an email.
“[They] believe the voters will see that the allegations are unfounded.”
Jefferson County Reporter Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.