Supreme Court dismisses Rock/Kawa/Quirk appeal
Case of the 2012 ‘5 to 3 Sublette County Commissioners’ special election
by Pinedale Online!
May 18, 2013
The Wyoming Supreme Court issued their ruling on an appeal case filed by Sublette County residents Paul Rock, Dari Quirk and Ernie Kawa against Sublette County Clerk Mary Lankford in a case involving contesting the results of the May 2012 special election to determine whether the Sublette County Board of County Commissioners should be decreased from five to three commissioners.
The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal by Rock, Quirk and Kawa based on technicalities in the way they filed their claims as an election contest. They said the three did not file their appeal within the required 15 days and it was not brought by the required five electors.
In 2011, Paul Rock successfully spearheaded a signature petition campaign to get a special election to raise the number of seats on the Sublette County Commission from three to five. The special election was held in August 2011 and passed. Subsequently, other citizens dissatisfied with that outcome initiated their own petition signature campaign calling for another special election on the issue, arguing that the low voter turnout (28.67%) indicated that was not the true wishes of the community on the question. As a result of their efforts to gather enough signatures, a second special election was held in May, 2012 asking the voters if the number of commissioner seats should be reduced from five to three seats. The second special election generated a 45.88% voter turnout, passing the proposition. That resulted in only one commissioner seat open for election in the 2012 primary and general election to fill a three-seat board, rather than three open seats to fill a five-seat commission. Rock and Kawa both ran campaigns for county commissioner, but were unsuccessful. Part of their appeal argument was they personally suffered additional injury because they could not both be elected in 2012 because the two additional seats in the August 2011 ballot proposition were overturned by the second special election in May 2012. The three filed an appeal with District Court saying the commissioner seats should have first had an opportunity to have been filled in an election cycle before being allowed to be reduced again. The District Court ruled the May 2012 special election was proper and upheld the results returning to a three-seat county commission board.
The Supreme Court did not address the merits of the arguments by Paul Rock, Dari Quirk and Ernie Kawa, only that their appeal was not filed in a timely fashion and did not have the proper number of electors, and that the District Court lacked jurisdiction to consider the claims. The Supreme Court upheld the results of the 2012 election returning the size of the commission to three seats.
Click on this link to read the Supreme Court decision on the appeal cases: S-12-0216, S-12-0217
The cost of adding more County Commissioner - Pinedale Online, March 29, 2011
Sublette County Commissioners: Stay at 3? Go to 5? - Pinedale Online, August 15, 2011
Sublette County to go from 3 to 5 Commissioners - Pinedale Online, August 16, 2011
Petition seeks return to three-member commission - Sublette Examiner, November 15, 2011
Sublette County Attorney responds to legality of 5 to 3 petition - Pinedale Online, November 17, 2011
5 to 3 petition deadline draws near for signatures - Pinedale Online, February 17, 2012
Sheriff’s Office responds to 5 to 3 complaint - Pinedale Online, April 16, 2012
Citizens vote to decrease the board of county commissioners from 5 to 3 members - Pinedale Online, May 8, 2012
Rock and Kawa file Petition for Writ of Review for 5 to 3 - Pinedale Online, May 25, 2012