Hastings loses school board seat

Judge denies residency appeal.

“PORT ORCHARD – It’s finally over. Michael Hastings will not be a North Kitsap School Board member. Nearly 10 months after Hastings won his election, Kitsap County Superior Court Judge Leonard Kruse has upheld the Canvassing Board’s decision that Hastings did not meet the residency requirements for last November’s election. Marie Hebert, appointed to Hastings’ seat by the school board, will complete the remainder of his two-year term. When informed of Kruse’s decision, North Kitsap School District Superintendent Dr. Eugene Medina issued the following statement: This recent ‘ruling’ has brought the issue to closure. While Mr. Hastings will not be serving on the school board, we look forward to his continued involvement as parent and patron. Kruse’s written decision also states that the Canvassing Board did not act arbitrarily and capriciously. Obviously the issue concerning residency is ‘fact driven,’ he said. They understood the burden of proof under which they were operating as clear and convincing evidence and the facts which they found were based upon substantial evidence in the record, Kruse stated. A residence, for the purpose of registering and voting, means a person’s permanent address, where he or she physically resides and maintains his or her abode. Joanne Nelson, Kingston, challenged Hastings’ voter registration, claiming that he did not live in the run-down Norman Rd. home he claimed to be renovating, but rather in an apartment in Poulsbo. A Canvassing Board, convened by the Kitsap County Auditor, Karen Flynn, reviewed the evidence presented by both Nelson and Hastings. The board ruled that Hastings did not live in Kingston and ruled against him again when they were reconvened for a reconsideration hearing. In a subsequent appeal to Superior Court, Hastings challenged the makeup of the Canvassing Board, claimed that certain members of the board should have disqualifed themselves because of an alleged political and/or personal relationship with people who challenged Hastings. Kruse ruled against Hastings on every point of the appeal. The law is quite clear… elected persons may have official dealings with persons who have been contributors to their campaigns, noted Kruse. If that was not the rule, according to Kruse, elected officials could not preside over matters involving political contributors. According to Kruse, That would result in either (1) not very many proceedings or (2) we would not have many elected officials. Thomas Olmstead, the Poulsbo attorney who represented Hastings during the original civil case and subsequent appeals, expressed deep disappointment in the outcome. I don’t feel the standard of clear and convincing evidence was ever met. I’m not sure that Judge Kruse even read the evidence, Olmstead said. I think it was a partisan attack on a person who doesn’t share a personal or political viewpoint with the group who attacked him. “