PORT ANGELES — After an almost three-month legal battle, Clallam County and former Department of Community Development Director Mary Ellen Winborn have settled their legal dispute regarding her ability to continue acting as DCD director after moving to Mississippi in May.
Settlement terms were not disclosed.
Winborn could not be reached for comment Tuesday afternoon.
“The quo warranto action, which I brought in my capacity as prosecuting attorney on behalf of the state of Washington, was resolved through the entry of a judgment of ouster which is what we argued was appropriate based on the law,” Prosecuting Attorney Mark Nichols wrote in a Tuesday afternoon email.
According to the Revised Code of Washington, a “judgment of ouster” can be entered when a defendant is found guilty usurping or unlawfully exercising any office or franchise within the state.
A “quo warranto action” is used to resolve a dispute over whether a specific person has the legal right to hold the public office that he or she occupies.
In late July, the county commissioners voted unanimously to begin legal action against Winborn, who was continuing in her role as elected Community Development Director despite having moved to Mississippi in May.
The county was granted a temporary restraining order prohibiting Winborn from conducting any duties related to the community development director office.
Winborn, who was elected to the post in November 2014 and reelected in November 2018, moved to Mississippi in May. Her term expires in December and she is not seeking reelection. Her position pays $101,000 annually.
Winborn had said she has rented a place and returns to it once a month while conducting most of her duties remotely.
After canceling her voter registration due to concerns over stalking, she said she would renew her Clallam County voter registration once she received her new address from the Washington State Address Confidentiality Program.
However, Clallam County Commission Chairman Mark Ozias said in August that he was told that Winborn canceling her voter registration, a requirement of residency, was “uncurable” and that it was one of the few times the law was clear.
Reporter Brian Gawley can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.