OMC candidate residency challenged in court

Judge asked to take Henninger name off ballot

PORT ANGELES — A general election candidate’s eligibility to run for Olympic Medical Center hospital commissioner is being disputed in Clallam County Superior Court.

Sequim resident Michelle Ridgway filed a request Monday for a show-cause order that lays out the challenge to Anne Marie Henninger’s candidacy.

Ridgway is asking a judge to make Henninger prove she lives in the Sequim-area district that she wants to represent, a legal requirement.

“If Ann Marie Henninger does not reside in Commissioner District No. 1, I respectfully request that the Court issue an order prohibiting the County Auditor from placing Ann Marie Henninger’s name on the general election ballot,” according to Ridgway’s affidavit.

On Monday, the same day Ridgway filed her request and the day before the primary election, Court Commissioner Brandon Mack issued his ruling.

He did not decide on the merits of Ridgway’s claim, refusing to enter the order on the ex parte calendar, on an emergency basis.

Mack said the primary will be certified Aug. 20 and there’s time for Ridgway to file the motion on the weekly civil docket.

Henninger was served notice Tuesday on the show-cause motion and was given Ridgway’s 17-page affidavit that asserts she violated the law.

Port Angeles lawyer Lindsey Schromen-Wawrin, representing Ridgway, said Thursday that he expects to file the motion next week on the civil docket.

“We need to find a date and time that works for everybody,” said Schromen-Wawrin, a Port Angeles City Council member.

“The case is filed.”

Henninger would not be interviewed for this article.

“I am fully prepared to prove my case should this end up in court,” she said Thursday in an email.

“I am registered to vote where I live, which is in District 1.

“Until and unless I am notified there is going to be further legal action, I need to review that first before further comment.”

Henninger did not respond to an email asking how long she has lived at her current address.

She was the clear choice of primary election voters for the Position 1 seat, easily besting her two opponents.

According to the latest count Thursday, she won 58.83 percent of the vote (7,543) compared to Nate Adkisson’s 23.05 percent (2,955) and Warren Pierce’s 17.54 percent (2,249), pushing Henninger and Adkisson to the Nov. 5 general election.

Ridgway said Thursday she supports Adkisson and works with his wife in Parent-Teacher Organization activities. Adkisson could not be reached for comment Thursday.

In her court filing, Ridgway asks that the court order Henninger’s name off the November ballot because she is not living in OMC’s District 1 and requests that the other two candidates’ names — Adkisson and Pierce — be on the Nov. 5 ballot.

Ridgway said she is acting under state law that requires a Superior Court judge “to prevent and correct ballot frauds and errors, including that ‘the name of any person has been or is about to be wrongfully placed upon the ballots.’”

Henninger and her husband, Ray, own residences and properties at 322 Klahhane Road valued at $338,362, and at 425 Sunnyside Ave. valued at $261,170, according to county Assessor’s Office records.

The Klahhane Road address is outside commissioner District 1.

The North Sunnyside Avenue address in Sequim lies within commissioner District 1.

Henninger’s husband is an unopposed candidate for the Nov. 5 election for the Sequim Aquatic Recreation Center board, filing on May 14 using the Klahhane Road address, which is also on his voter registration.

Henninger filed as a candidate May 17, the last day of filing week, using the North Sunnyside Avenue address, also listed on her voter registration.

“She did not live in the house in town when she filed,” Ridgway said this week.

“She wasn’t being honest.”

In a July 24 “candidate statement” on her Facebook page, Henninger cited her family’s involvement in the community.

“My husband and I have lived, worked, played, and raised our family in Clallam County for 23 years. We are joyfully immersed in our community with service activities as a high priority,” she said.

As of April 30, two weeks before filing for the position, Henninger lived outside the commissioner district, at the Klahhane Road address, according to an extract of state voter registration records contained in Ridgway’s filing.

Klahhane Road is the mailing address for property tax billings.

“Sometime between April 30, 2019 and filing for candidacy on May 17, 2019, Ann Marie Henninger switched her voter registration address from 322 Klahhane Road to 425 N. Sunnyside Avenue, 7.2 miles away in the city of Sequim,” Ridgway said in her affidavit.

Voter registration address changes are not public record.

“I can’t give the date when she changed to Sunnyside Avenue,” Clallam County Auditor Shoona Riggs said this week.

Whether Henninger’s name would be taken off the ballot should Ridgway prevail in court, “will be something for the court to decide,” Riggs said.

An elected official’s residence for purposes of registering to vote and voting must be that person’s “principal abode,” according to a 1951 state Attorney General’s Office opinion cited in the filing.

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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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