In response to doubts about his residency, Spokane City Council candidate Tyler LeMasters is pointing to his driver’s license.
Some have questioned whether LeMasters, who worked in Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers’ Washington D.C. office before moving to Spokane, meets the City Charter requirements to appear on the November ballot.
In an email to The Spokesman-Review last week, the candidate said he is both a qualified resident and voter within District 2, and that any claim otherwise is “categorically false.” LeMasters provided The Spokesman-Review with a photo of his driver’s license, which was issued in 2019 and shows a South Hill address.
“On a personal note, being a military brat, I have moved around my entire life, and I am tired of people telling me that this and that place is not my home,” said LeMasters, who added he has lived here since 2005.
The City Charter requires a City Council candidate to be a “ resident of the city, and of the appropriate council district, for the one year immediately preceding the time of filing as a candidate.” For LeMasters, that would mean he had to be a Spokane resident and voter by May 2020.
Planned Parenthood Advocates of Greater Washington and Northern Idaho, the political affiliate of the Planned Parenthood of Greater Washington and Northern Idaho, told The Spokesman-Review last week it is in the “research and background phase” of a potential complaint it would file through its political action committee.
The group has not yet filed a complaint, according to spokesperson Paul Dillon, but is close to doing so.
“The intent of the law, and why there is these residency qualifications is so a representative can best represent the district and have the experience to best serve the district,” Dillon said. “He hasn’t lived here in what, four years?”
The evidence the group points to includes LeMasters’ own statements on social media.
In a November 2020 video posted to Instagram, LeMasters said “well, we’re officially back in Spokane. I am never leaving. We officially live here now,” LeMasters said.
Skeptics also point to LeMasters’ voter registration records. Although he is registered to vote in Spokane, his November 2020 ballot was mailed to an Alexandria, Virginia, address. He is now registered to vote at the house he and his wife purchased on the South Hill in January.
McMorris Rodgers’ campaign confirmed to The Spokesman-Review last month that he worked in her office for 10 months.
In August 2019, LeMasters posted on Facebook that after living in China for a year and Spain for four months, he and his wife “moved back to the U.S.” and were settling in Washington D.C. In August 2020, LeMasters posted on Facebook that he was “back in Spokane.” When a person commented asking if he was back for good or for a visit, he replied “just a visit.”
He noted that he meets the definition of a resident under the state Department of Revenue’s guidelines, which sets a number of ways a person can be considered a resident for tax purposes.
LeMasters has not answered The Spokesman-Review’s questions about when he last permanently resided in Spokane.
“Betsy and the council are worried that Spokane will hold them accountable in November’s vote. We will,” LeMasters wrote.
There is no primary election in LeMasters’ race against Wilkerson because they are the only two candidates. Barring an order from a judge, LeMasters and Wilkerson will appear on the general election ballot.
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