PORT ANGLES — Clallam County was granted a temporary restraining order against the elected Department of Community Development Director, Mary Ellen Winborn, on Thursday.
Judge Lauren Erickson granted the temporary restraining order to Prosecuting Attorney Mark Nichols in Clallam County Superior Court and set another hearing for Aug. 11. County commissioners plan an executive session on the litigation today.
The order cites Clallam County’s concern that it could face “immediate injury” if Winborn were to continue in her role as an elected DCD director since any actions she takes in that capacity could be voided.
“Under RCW 42.12.010, an elected official must vacate their role when they cease to be a registered voter in the county in which they were elected. On July 1, 2022, Ms. Winborn canceled her voter registration within Clallam County,” Nichols said in court Thursday.
Winborn has lived in Mississippi since May. She has said she has been working remotely and that she travels to a rental in Clallam County at least once a month to pursue her duties in person. Her term as DCD director, a position that pays $101,000 annually, ends on Dec. 31.
She is not running for reelection.
Clallam is the only county in the nation where the Director of Community Development is an elected rather than appointed position.
The temporary restraining order prevents Winborn from performing her duties as the DCD director, including accessing non-public areas of the Clallam County Courthouse and other Clallam County properties, and from using Clallam County computers, phones, servers and email.
The order also prevents her from removing or destroying any records or writing in her possession pertaining to the DCD office.
Winborn told the judge that she canceled her voter registration because she was going through a process to have her address protected via the Washington State Address Confidentiality Program. Once that was finished, she planned to reapply, she has said.
“I had to have an advocate from Olympia to get through the process and he had been sick and hadn’t been able to file the paperwork needed for me to get my address protected,” Winborn said.
The program, established 31 years ago, was designed to prevent people’s addresses from being located by perpetrators of crimes like stalking, domestic violence and sexual assault through access to public records such as driver’s licenses, voter registrations and marriage records.
It later was extended to criminal justice officials and others in government who have had threats made against them.
Winborn said a person had come into the County Auditor’s office requesting to see her voter’s registration.
“I am being stalked,” she said.
“I don’t want people knowing where I live, and I don’t want my landlord drug into this,” Winborn said.
Reporter Ken Park can be reached at email@example.com.