Process for filling John Erak’s council seat outlined

The Aberdeen City Council will vote on a replacement for council member John Erak, who died last Friday at the age of 81, according to a process outlined by city attorney Eric Nelson. One or more candidates are nominated by a council member from a pool of people in Ward 5 who express interest in serving out the remaining few months of the term, Nelson said Tuesday.

“That’s all the law requires. It is not a mayoral appointment. Commonly, the city announces the vacancy and a deadline to express interest and the meeting date for nominations,” he said.

“You must live in the ward in order to run for city council, you must live in the ward to serve (automatic forfeiture of office if a council member moves out of the ward), and you must live in the ward to vote for that ward’s city council representatives,” Nelson said in an email.

Erak’s term would have expired at the end of the year, but he had filed for re-election. Alan Richrod filed to run against Erak. It’s unclear whether the council will nominate Richrod to fill out the remainder of Erak’s term.

Ward 5 includes much of the downtown core and residential areas immediately to the north and west. For a precise view, see specific ward maps on the city hall’s website under city council.

Mayor Bill Simpson, a close friend of Erak’s, said he wants to wait until after the celebration of life service, on Saturday, July 20, before talking much about a replacement. When asked Tuesday if he thought Richrod might be nominated as the replacement, he replied, “probably, yeah” since only a write-in candidate could oppose him.

Council President Kathi Hoder and Council Member Tim Alstrom suggested Monday that at a future council meeting Simpson will “seek people with interest from those who live” in Ward 5. Once interested parties are known, nominations are made and the council votes, said Hoder, who gained her seat in a similar manner.

The Nov. 5, election for Erak’s seat is also altered by his death. “The position will not be re-opened for additional filings,” so Richrod will be the sole candidate on the ballot, said Katy Moore, Election Administrator of Grays Harbor County.

“John’s name will be removed for the general election” as the plan stands, which is being confirmed with offices of secretary of state and the attorney general, she said.

Moore recommends that if someone seriously wants to run as a write-in candidate they file with the Grays Harbor County Elections Office since as a declared candidate “any recognizable variation of your name will be counted,” she said. If a candidate does not file, then the write in’s name must be spelled precisely with no deviation or it will be discounted.

The fee as a write-in for the city council position is $43.37, or 1 percent of the annual salary of 4,337.16, she said. According to regulations provided by Moore, candidates without enough money to pay, may instead submit a filing fee petition that contains the valid signatures of registered voters equal to the dollar amount of the filing fee,” or 44 valid signatures to be safe.

The deadline to declare is Oct. 18. Whoever is elected to the seat will begin serving Nov. 26 when the election is certified rather than take office in January when most candidates assume their positions, Moore said.