Roach's residency challenged
April 30, 2009 · Updated 4:31 PM
By Kevin Hanson, The Courier-Herald
Challenges to the residency claim by King County Council candidate Pam Roach have lent an early spark to a campaign already buzzing with electricity.
The race for the District 9 seat on the Metropolitan King County Council features three interesting characters: Roach is a populist state senator representing the 31st Legislative District who worked for former county councilman Kent Pullen, who died in April; Steve Hammond currently fills the District 9 seat, having been chosen in June by the dozen other members of the council; and Phil Fortunato is a former member of the state House of Representatives.
Added to the mix is the fact that Hammond inherited Roach when he was appointed to the council post. The union didn't last long, as they parted ways when Roach announced she would challenge Hammond for the post in the fall elections. One more active ingredient to the political recipe is the fact that all three were considered as replacements for Pullen.
Only two of the three will survive the Sept. 16 primary election and continue the battle forward to November's general election.
Providing some August intrigue are a pair of formal challenges to Roach's residency, filed with the King County elections department.
Auburn resident Walter Watts contends Roach's permanent address is the Sumner home she and her husband, Jim, purchased last year. Scott Strawn of Seattle claims the senator's full-time residence is the family home on Green Valley Road between Black Diamond and Auburn, the home where the Roaches raised their five children.
Roach admits she and her husband own both those homes. However, the Sumner home is being rented to a son and roommates, she said, and the Green Valley Road home has been turned over to a son who is in law school.
Roach said she and her husband now live in Enumclaw with family friends Michael and Laurel McDougall. She said they pay rent to share space in the McDougall's large home.
Roach, who has listed several permanent addresses in recent years - which have coincided with election seasons - claims the latest brouhaha is politically motivated. "Steve Hammond knows he's not going to win," she said, hinting at dirty politics by the current office-holder.
"The salient issue is, I've lived in the 9th District for 26 years...and I live there today," Roach said.
Hammond said he had nothing to do with the initial challenge, but he's convinced Roach is acting inappropriately. "I'm not the guy who initiated it," he said, "but I spoke up because I felt it was important. Where you live does matter."
Hammond makes no secret of the fact he believes Roach is playing political games. "The idea of residency is far more than renting a room somewhere," he said. Taking the analogy a step further, he said his children have occasionally spent the night with friends, but he hasn't considered that a move from the family home.
According to state law, Roach's residency issue must be heard by interim elections director James Buck. An employee in Buck's office said that would occur by Friday. Buck's decision can be appealed in court.
Kevin Hanson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org