Opinion

Perhaps a background check on candidates?

The Bremerton mayoral race was shaken up this week after the Bremerton Patriot uncovered disturbing news regarding the criminal background of write-in candidate Deborah Jackson.

She is currently wanted in Oklahoma for second-degree forgery, which leaves us scratching our heads wondering how a person with a warrant for their arrest can successfully file for public office?

To file for candidacy in Kitsap County, all that is required is for that person to be a registered voter. That’s it. Each city may have additional requirements, but none of them have anything to do with one’s criminal or wanted background. In Bremerton, there is a one-year residency requirement in addition to being a registered voter, however, there are no laws requiring background checks on potential candidates. These candidates have the power to make myriad decisions in our communities, including how our taxpayer dollars are spent, yet there is no pre-screening for criminal backgrounds.

“It’s not anything the auditor’s office can do,” Kitsap County Elections Manager Delores Gilmore said. “It’s not a requirement of state law.”

Regardless of whether it’s a write-in candidate or a person whose name appears on the ballot, there is no background check, she explained.

There are more regulations on felons who are ineligible to vote than on the candidates themselves. Washington Department of Corrections and the state court system provide the Secretary of State’s office with a list of felons who are ineligible to vote. Three times a year that information is used to screen the list of registered voters for ineligible felons, according to the Secretary of State’s office.

We should be just as concerned with the people we are putting in charge of our county and state coffers.

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