An Olympia resident filed a challenge last week alleging that city council candidate Lisa Parshley doesn’t live within city limits. But Parshley says the claims are both surprising and false.
Thurston County’s Canvassing Board held its first meeting on the issue Monday afternoon, then will hear discovery on Wednesday, and make a final decision on Oct. 9. However, the board’s decision will have no bearing on her candidacy for Olympia City Council.
The Canvassing Board — made up of County Auditor Mary Hall, County Prosecutor Jon Tunheim and County Commission Chair Bud Blake — will decide whether Parshley is properly registered to vote. Any challenges to her ability to serve on the Olympia City Council would have to be made in Thurston County Superior Court.
Olympia City Council members must live within city limits for more than a year before taking office. Candidates must be registered voters in the city at the time of filing.
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Michael Snodgrass filed a voter registration challenge with the Thurston County Auditor’s Office on Sept. 27, alleging that Parshley doesn’t live on the 1000 block of Fourth Avenue East, where she is registered to vote. He alleges that the Fourth Avenue building serves mainly as Parshley’s campaign office, and that she lives in the Boston Harbor area, in unincorporated Thurston County.
Parshley said Monday that she and her husband have lived on Fourth Avenue since 2014. They chose the location to be near to their veterinary practices, both of which are located near downtown. The couple does partially own a Boston Harbor home, which has been in the family since the 1960s, but they don’t live there, she said.
“I live (on Fourth Avenue) and I have since 2014,” Parshley said. “I was a little bit surprised when I heard about this.”
Snodgrass also was a candidate for Olympia City Council this year, but lost in the primary to Renata Rollins and Jeannine Roe in the Position 6 race. Parshley is running against Allen Miller in the Position 5 race, and beat out Deborah Lee in the primary.
Snodgrass said that as a candidate in the primary, he was invited to campaign-related events at the Fourth Avenue building. More than one person asked Snodgrass if Parshley lived in the building.
“I thought it was an office,” Snodgrass said. “I’d gone there, I know where it is, I know it’s an office.”
But he didn’t pursue the issue until after the primary. He checked her candidate filing information, and found that it listed the Fourth Avenue building as her home address. Parshley’s information in the state voter database lists the same address, The Olympian confirmed.
He looked up the building in the Thurston County Assessor’s Office database, and learned that the building is listed as commercial, with no living units. The database also shows that Parshley is part owner of a Boston Harbor home.
Snodgrass said he finds it hard to believe that she would live at her campaign office instead of the Boston Harbor home.
“Under the best case scenario, she manipulated the system to run for office,” Snodgrass said.
Parshley’s name will appear on the November ballot, regardless of the Canvassing Board’s decision, said Auditor Mary Hall.
“We’re not an agency that does any kind of policing,” Hall said.
However, there would likely be some kind of legal challenge if the board decides Parshley is not a resident of Olympia, but won a city council seat, Hall said.
Steve Hall, Olympia’s city manager, said that no non-Olympia resident has been elected to the Olympia City Council since he joined the city’s staff in 1990.