Opinion

Blame for ballot mixup rests with school district

South Kitsap School Superintendent Dave LaRose has a point when he says the district has a responsibility to the taxpayers to be good stewards of its resources. But we disagree that this end is served by pursuing legal action in the matter of this month’s botched primary election.

To review, SKSD currently owes the county $70,000 to pay for an election that wasn’t actually necessary because it turned out one of the candidates for a seat on the school board, Gail Porter, wasn’t an eligible candidate, having recently moved just a few blocks away from her previous residence without realizing her new address placed her in a different school zone.

LaRose argues the district had no way of knowing Porter was no longer candidate in good standing and shouldn’t have to pay for an election it didn’t need. And that’s a compelling argument.

Unfortunately, however, someone has to pay — and there are only two other parties in this drama.

For its part, it’s hard to see how the county has any obligation — legal or otherwise — to verify the personal information of every candidate who files for public office.

And as for Porter, if it could be shown she’d deliberately misled the district for some reason, that would be one thing.

But as far as anyone can tell, she simply made an honest mistake. And in doing so, she forfeited whatever sum she paid as a filing fee to the county.

Which brings us back to the school district.

For better or worse, the district is required by law to pay the costs of staging an election for members of its board. And with that financial obligation comes the responsiblity to make absolutely sure such an election is necessary and proper in the first place — which in this case it obviously didn’t do.

We can sympathize with the district not wanting to pay for someone else’s error. But ultimately we think a lawsuit to that effect will go nowhere — except that it will increase the district’s costs by the amount of its legal bills.

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