Candidate challenge rejected; Port Angeles port incumbent plans to refile complaint against challenger

Shoona Riggs

PORT ANGELES — Colleen McAleer, incumbent Port of Port Angeles commissioner, said Thursday she will refile her campaign’s voter registration challenge against her general election opponent, Michael Cobb, after the challenge was rejected Wednesday by Clallam County Auditor Shoona Riggs.

Cobb has admitted that he falsified the Sequim residential address he put in his voter registration form, has said he lives in Sequim and has refused to make his address public.

McAleer said she will press forward with her claim despite Riggs’ decision.

“It’s important that anyone running for office follow state law, and I am going to ensure we get to the bottom of this issue,” McAleer said.

“It’s a technical process, so we’ll go back and do it correctly.”

Riggs rejected the challenge in a 6:42 p.m. Wednesday email to David Gilles, McAleer’s campaign treasurer and husband.

Riggs said the challenge “is not in the proper form because it is incomplete” and that it does not “substantially comply” with challenge requirements outlined in state law.

Riggs welcomed Gilles to resubmit a legal challenge that meets statutory requirements.

“At this time, however, the auditor considers the matter to be closed and will take no further action,” she said.

Riggs said Gilles did not send required letters to Cobb’s listed mailing and residential addresses and did not obtain a signed affidavit from a John Wayne Marina attesting that Cobb does not live there.

He also did not prove he had searched telephone and online directories to determine whether Cobb maintains a telephone listing at any address in the county and did not prove he searched county records to ascertain whether Cobb owned any property in the county.

McAleer represents Sequim-area District 1.

The Clallam County elections office uses the address that candidates list on their voter registration forms to determine whether they live in districts they would represent if they win the position.

Cobb told the Peninsula Daily News on July 21 that he does not live at the 2577 Sequim Bay Road address — the same address as the port-owned John Wayne Marina — that he listed in his voter registration form but that he does live in District 1.

Cobb would not comment on why he falsified his residential address on the voter registration form and would not say where he lives.

“My address is known to the police, but it is not public,” he said.

He said he would comment more about his address when a hearing is held on the challenge.

Cobb pays moorage, not liveaboard, fees at the marina, according to port records.

Cobb told John Wayne Marina Harbormaster Ron Amundson that he listed himself as a liveaboard there “because he did not want to list his actual address in Sequim at his girlfriend’s due to an x causing problems,” according to Amundson’s July 19 email to port human resources and public records officer Holly Hairell.

Cobb said Friday he would not comment on Riggs’ decision and needed to consult with his lawyer.

Knowingly providing false information to a voter registration form is a Class C felony.

The Auditor’s Office will not inquire about Cobb’s address or talk to him about it, Riggs said.

“The Auditor’s Office does not do voter challenges,” she said last week.

“A citizen can do a challenge to a voter registration.”

In an email Wednesday to Cobb, Riggs told him he can update his registration by contacting her office if the information he provided is incorrect.

Erich Ebel, a spokesman for the state Secretary of State’s Office, said Thursday if voters want to shield their addresses from the publicly available state voter databases, they can apply to list their voter registration addresses with the agency’s Address Confidentiality Program.

“That is specifically for individuals who have been stalked, harassed, threatened, who have domestic violence issues, those kinds of things,” Ebel said.

He said participation in the Address Confidentiality Program “has very clear eligibility requirements” and is applied for in Clallam County through Healthy Families of Clallam County, the Forks Abuse Program and the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe.

County election officials can confirm through the program that a candidate lives in the correct district.

Cobb said Thursday he is unaware of the program.

“I will explore that,” he said Thursday.

McAleer also was unaware it exists.

“If he has a compelling reason and if there is a process to allow that, then fine,” she said.

“But I don’t know if he lives in the district, and he hasn’t been forthright about filling out the form certifying that his information is true and correct, and it’s not, so it seems pretty straightforward to me.

“It’s quite clear he doesn’t live in the John Wayne Marina, so it sure would be easier for everyone if he would just be transparent about his residence.

“But maybe he doesn’t live in the district, in which case he shouldn’t be running.”

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Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at [email protected].

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