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Lawsuit looks to remove LeMasters from November Spokane City Council ballot over residency question

UPDATED: Wed., Aug. 18, 2021

Spokane City Council candidate Tyler LeMasters is defending his eligibility to be on the ballot by disputing claims he hasn’t lived in the city long enough to run.  (www.votetylerlemasters.com)
Spokane City Council candidate Tyler LeMasters is defending his eligibility to be on the ballot by disputing claims he hasn’t lived in the city long enough to run. (www.votetylerlemasters.com)

A lawsuit filed in Spokane County Superior Court this week seeks to remove Spokane City Council candidate Tyler LeMasters from the November ballot.

The complaint, which has been expected for several weeks, argues that LeMasters does not meet the candidate residency requirements embedded in the Spokane City Charter.

It cites LeMasters’ work in the Washington, D.C., office of Republican Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, as well as his voting and property records, as evidence that the first-time candidate did not live in the district for at least a year prior to filing for office.

LeMasters has continued to reject assertions he does not meet the requirement and has continued his campaign against sitting City Councilwoman Betsy Wilkerson in District 2, which encompasses the South Hill and downtown Spokane.

Last month, LeMasters provided The Spokesman-Review a copy of his driver’s license, which was issued in 2019 and lists a South Hill address. He also argued that he maintained residency in Spokane under state Department of Revenue guidelines.

In a statement on Wednesday, he said he was “excited to beat these Seattle lawyers who are coming over from the West Side to tamper in our elections.”

“The political elites in Spokane know my candidacy makes people feel represented and heard. They also know they have no solutions to the housing, public safety and homelessness crises our city council has created,” LeMasters said.

The complaint was filed in Spokane County Superior Court this week by Planned Parenthood Advocates of Greater Washington and Northern Idaho, the political affiliate of the Planned Parenthood of Greater Washington and Northern Idaho, and its spokesperson Paul Dillon. Mary Winkes, a District 2 resident, is also a plaintiff.

“Wanting what’s best for District 2 and our faith in the electoral system, it’s time to move forward and we feel confident in the evidence we’ve provided,” Dillon told The Spokesman-Review.

The Spokane City Charter requires a City Council candidate to have been a resident of the district “for the one year immediately preceding the time of filing as a candidate.” It defines a residency as being where the candidate “physically resides and maintains his or her abode.”

LeMasters and his family purchased a home on the South Hill in January, and he filed for office May 18. According to the complaint, he was living near Washington, D.C., for almost all of 2020.

It cites Legistorm, an online database of Congressional and government employees and their salaries, to show that LeMasters worked for McMorris Rodgers from November 2019 through October 2020. LeMasters’ LinkedIn profile also states that he worked for McMorris Rodgers during that span.

Voting records show LeMasters’ ballots in March and August 2020 were mailed to an address in Spokane Valley but were never returned, according to the complaint.

LeMasters received two general election ballots in October; the first was mailed to Spokane Valley but “suspended,” followed by a ballot mailed to Virginia that was returned to the Spokane County Elections Office on Oct. 23.

Exhibits included with the complaint point to comments made by LeMasters on social media last year that indicated he did not physically live in Spokane.

LeMasters has described himself as a “military brat” who has moved often, but said he has called Spokane home since 2005.

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