Josh Brown faced with residency challenge

PORT ORCHARD — While the attorney for Central Kitsap Commissioner Josh Brown insists the newly elected commissioner met legal residency requirements to run for office last year, he is using a statutory defense against the lawsuit.

“We have the evidence that Josh established legal residency in Central Kitsap in order to run for commissioner,” said attorney John D. Morgan. “This includes rent receipts, paid utility bills and a state-issued driver’s license. But we are trying the case on procedural grounds, (because) the motion was not filed 10 days after the certification of the election.” 

In the motion filed on Dec. 31, the last hour when legal business was conducted in 2006, Central Kitsap resident Robert Ross accused Brown of lying about his residence in Bremerton during the campaign. Ross alleges Brown was actually living at his parents’ home, which is in the North Kitsap Commissioner’s District.

As evidence, Ross hired a private investigator who followed Brown, and who never witnessed any activity at the unit at 1025 Perry Avenue in Bremerton. The investigation occurred after the Nov. 7 election.

At issue is the timing of the motion. Ross’ attorney, Michele Radosevich of Davis Wright Tremaine in Seattle, has interpreted the limit for filing an action as 10 days after the Dec. 21 swearing in.

Morgan, along with Kitsap County Auditor Karen Flynn, interprets the law to read that all challenges must be filed 10 days after the certification of the election, which Flynn did Nov. 28.

Radosevich, who has a background in election law, said she was hired for the case “because I had done some local work for the Republicans in the past.”

Ross said he has shared all the legal expenses with at least two other individuals — whom he declined to name.

Brown is currently closing on a house in the Silverdale area.

If the motion is not struck down, Morgan said he will present evidence. According to Morgan, Brown began leasing the apartment on July 13, 2006 more than two weeks before the filing deadline. He paid $525 per month plus utilities and phone.

Brown announced his intention to run for the seat in February 2006.

“I’ve never met Josh Brown and have nothing against him,” Ross said. “But if he’s willing to lie to get elected, then what will he do once he is the commissioner?”

Ross is the son of Ron Ross, who was the largest single contributor to the campaign of Jack Hamilton, who Brown defeated in the November election.

Ron Ross said this week he had no specific knowledge of the lawsuit until it was filed, although, “I had heard some things.”

“This is a case of sour grapes,” said Morgan. “This was done for political purposes and is nothing but harassment.”

Hamilton, who is now Kitsap County Republican chairman, said neither he, the party, nor any political candidate had any knowledge of or involvement in the lawsuit.

If Brown is found guilty or resigns, the vacant position would be filled by the remaining two commissioners until the next election.

Flynn said the replacement must be of the same political party as the resigned commissioner, which would rule out both Hamilton and former Central Kitsap Commissioner Patty Lent, who was defeated by Hamilton in the Republican primary.

The residency motion filed against Brown will be heard at 9 a.m. Jan. 16 in Kitsap County Superior Court. Jefferson County Superior Court Judge Craddock D. Verser will preside since the Kitsap County Superior Court has recused itself from the matter.