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Sunday, May 31, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Spokane Valley Councilwoman Pam Haley won’t appear on state House ballot despite computer troubles, judge rules

UPDATED: Fri., May 22, 2020

Spokane Valley City Councilmember Pam Haley is sworn in by Spokane Valley City Clerk Chris Bainbridge in this November 2017 photo. Haley’s bid to appear on the August 2020 ballot as a candidate for state House of Representatives was shot down by a judge Friday, who ruled her computer troubles weren’t enough to allow for a late filing for the office. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)
Spokane Valley City Councilmember Pam Haley is sworn in by Spokane Valley City Clerk Chris Bainbridge in this November 2017 photo. Haley’s bid to appear on the August 2020 ballot as a candidate for state House of Representatives was shot down by a judge Friday, who ruled her computer troubles weren’t enough to allow for a late filing for the office. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)

Spokane Valley City Councilwoman Pam Haley will not appear on the August primary ballot as a candidate for the state House of Representatives, a judge ruled Friday.

Haley said she attempted to file last week to run for the seat held by Rep. Bob McCaslin, representing the Valley, Liberty Lake and areas reaching north to Mount Spokane. McCaslin filed for the seat previously held by state Rep. Matt Shea in the same district after Shea failed to file for re-election.

The Secretary of State’s filing website crashed when Haley attempted to file just before the 4 p.m. deadline, the councilwoman contended in court. Spokane County Judge Charnelle Bjelkengren dismissed her requests to submit candidate biographical information and appear on the ballot, saying the request had not been submitted by a legal deadline and that Haley’s decision to delay filing was the chief reason for her difficulties.

“By her own admission, she didn’t even log on until 3:55,” Bjelkengren said in handing down her ruling. The deadline to file online was 4 p.m. “That’s entirely unreasonable. She essentially assumed the risk of technical difficulties. Anything could have happened.”

In-person filling was also available at the Spokane County Elections Office or by mail, Spokane County Auditor Vicky Dalton contended in opposing adding Haley’s name to ballots that must be prepared for printing by June 1.

Bjelkengren’s decision leaves four candidates for the seat after what Haley’s attorney, David Dewolf, called last-minute “jockeying” ahead of the deadline. Republicans on the ballot will be Nathan Sybrandy, Rob Chase and Leonard Christian. Democrat Lance Gurel also will appear on the August top-two primary ballot. Christian was the only candidate who appeared in the courtroom for Haley’s hearing.

The Secretary of State’s Office said earlier this week they were aware some candidates had difficulty filing online for office.

“We did receive calls from some candidates who said they were not able to complete their online filing before 4 p.m., citing perceived issues with the portal or a hiccup in the connection,” Kylee Zabel, a spokeswoman for the office, wrote in an email earlier this week. “We can confirm candidate filings were completed in the system all the way up to and a few minutes after 4 p.m.”

Haley said after the hearing, conducted via Zoom, that she hadn’t yet decided whether she’d run as a write-in candidate for the House seat. Her current term with the Spokane Valley City Council runs through the end of 2021.

“It would be a tough go because we’re still in COVID-19 restrictions, and it would be really tough to meet people,” Haley said. “You would have to not only message that you want to be written in, but which seat you want to be written in for. That would be confusing.”

Haley said she did not intend to appeal Bjelkengren’s ruling. The top-two primary will be held Aug. 4.

Staff writer Jim Camden contributed to this report.

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