The recall effort against Tenino Councilor Frank Anderson will move forward after Thurston County Superior Court Judge Chris Wickham ruled in favor of the Tenino Recall Committee during a hearing Thursday morning.
Wickham threw out charges relating to Anderson owing the city $127,000 for code violations for his dilapidated Tenino property, but Wickham did uphold the the charge accusing Anderson of requesting an exception on his $14,719.93 unpaid water bills from the city council at a rate not available to the general public.
The Tenino City Council approved Anderson’s request at an April 13, 2010, meeting, according to the recall committee.
Justin Kover, a recall committee member and spokesperson, said the court did not determine if Anderson’s actions were legal or not, but instead confirmed the charge is legally sufficient enough to proceed with a recall election.
The decision to recall Anderson will be up to the voters,, Kover said.
“Today was a big step back for Frank,” Kover said.
Anderson said he is working with his attorney, Jeffrey Myers, to decide if he will appeal the charge and send the case to the Washington State Supreme Court.
“As of right now, my attorney and I are looking over all our options,” Anderson told The Chronicle on Thursday. “We don’t know for sure yet, but we will within the week.”
Anderson said he has 15 days from Thursday to file an appeal.
On Tuesday night before the recall hearing, The Tenino City Council agreed to have the city pay for Anderson’s attorney, a decision that is legal under state law.
Kover said if Anderson does not appeal, the recall committee will begin gathering petition signatures and wait for the Thurston County Auditor to prepare a ballot.
Kover said state law requires that the recall committee gather signatures from 35 percent of the total number of voters who voted for Anderson in the last election.
According to the Thurston County Auditor's Office, Anderson was last elected in 2009 with 253 votes, which means 89 would be needed to garner a special election.
Once the recall committee gets enough signatures and the ballot is ready, the county auditor has to schedule an election within 45 to 60 days.
The recall committee is also hoping to recall Councilor Robert Scribner, who was found to have used resources while working at the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries in June to access personal and confidential records on Mayor Eric Strawn and other council members.
Kover said the group needs to consult with their lawyers before filing the complaint against Scribner. Kover said the charges against Scribner will be ready by next week, unless Anderson decides to appeal.
The recall committee is currently investigating Councilors Bret Brodersen and Dawna Kelley-Donohue as well, Kover said.
“My hope is they take a look at what is going on and resign,” Kover said.
Kover said the only council member who has not been investigated is Wayne Fournier.
“He is the only one left that is on the up and up,” Kover said.