Fire commissioner’s residency questioned, will go to court

PORT TOWNSEND — Rich Stapf Jr.’s eligibility to retain his Jefferson County Fire District No. 6 commissioner position is in question after a former opponent challenged his residency.

Superior Court Judge Craddock Verser is scheduled to consider the matter at a hearing June 10, and determine which address should appear on Stapf’s voter registration.

At issue is whether Stapf can use the address of a home under construction to claim residency within the fire district.

“If [Verser] rules against me, then I would be forced to step down,” Stapf said Thursday.

Stapf’s voter registration address determines his eligibility to run for public office.

A Fire District No. 6 commissioner post requires formal residency in the Cape George area, but outside the Port Townsend city limit.

Stapf’s residency was scrutinized by his onetime challenger, Jack Tice, after Stapf sold his 68 Green Way home and began constructing a new house at 211 S. Jacob Miller Road, another location within the fire district.

Rental address

Jefferson County Auditor Donna Eldridge in February ruled that Stapf and his family formally reside at their rental house address, 4677 Bell St., in the city of Port Townsend.

The commissioner’s attorney challenged that ruling, citing that Stapf’s intent to build a home on Jacob Miller Road makes him eligible for a voter registration at that location.

Stapf received a building permit for his future home on April 19, he said, and is now working on the house’s foundation.

As a fire commissioner, he is paid $70 per meeting.

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