Lawsuit Filed to Protect Constitutional Rights of all Columbia County Voters
NUP takes legal action to keep proposition 2 off the November ballot.
August 31, 2023
Dayton — Neighbors United for Progress (NUP), Columbia County’s bipartisan political action committee, has filed a lawsuit that may save the Columbia County Library. The group filed a suit on August 29, 2023, asking the Columbia County Superior Court to issue an injunction prohibiting the Columbia County Auditor’s Office from placing Proposition 2—a ballot measure to dissolve the Columbia County Rural Library District—on the November 2023 ballot. The suit also asks the court to recover attorney’s fees and costs from the proposition’s main sponsor, Jessica Ruffcorn.
In a press release submitted to “The Times,” NUP representatives stated, “Proposition 2 is censorship by another name, but the legal issues are straightforward, and we believe we will prevail. There should be no taxation without representation. The U.S. Constitution is the supreme law of the land. And fraud unravels everything.”
The complaint alleges that the Unincorporated County has exceeded its initiative powers; the petition and ballot processes conflict with the federal and state constitutions; the dissolution statute, as applied, unconstitutionally disqualifies City residents; and the petition process was plagued with fraud.
The press release further described the lawsuit’s allegations as follows:
Washington’s Constitution guarantees “free and equal” elections. This means eligible voters whose tax and property interests are affected by a vote must have their voices heard.
Denying city residents a vote also violates the Privileges and Immunities Clause of the U.S. Constitution.
The dissolution statute that sponsors of Proposition 2 followed is unconstitutional as applied.
Proposition’s sponsors misrepresented the purpose and effect of Proposition 2 in soliciting petition signatures, and the court cannot abide fraud in the petition process.
If the ballot measure were to go on the November ballot, county residents and library patrons could lose the use and enjoyment of the library and its services. The dissolution process would flush away millions of local tax dollars invested in the county’s only public library. The library’s materials and assets, paid for by rural and city taxpayers, would go to the State should this proposition pass.
Should the measure be allowed on the November ballot, only a portion of the taxpayers contributing to the rural library district will have a say. While some who support the petition have said this was a chance for the voters to decide, the current process does not give all taxpayers a vote.
Elise Severe, Chair of Neighbors United, stated, “It takes hard work, dedicated citizens, and smart government to keep a small town from deteriorating. Our town’s success rests on the idea of people working together instead of taking an all-or-nothing approach. This is not a Republican or Democrat issue; this is an Everyone issue. The Interim Library Director, Ellen Brigham, has brought a community-centered approach to her new position. It’s time to focus on building and creating things together rather than tearing things apart.”
If you or anyone you know believes they may have been misled into signing the petition, please contact the local Auditor’s office at (509) 382-4541.
The lawsuit is available for view at https://tinyurl.com/49uw4eyf