Yakima City Hall

FILE — Yakima City Hall.

An official voter registration challenge has been filed against District 5 Yakima City Council candidate Liz Hallock, alleging Hallock doesn’t live in the district she’s hoping to represent.

Lisa Homer of Yakima filed the form with the Yakima County Auditor’s Office, alleging that Hallock does not live at the address listed on her voter registration form in District 5, and instead allegedly lives on a property in District 6, the document states.

In the challenge form, Homer alleges that Hallock owns the property listed on her voter registration form but no longer lives there permanently, claiming that Hallock instead books the entire property as a vacation rental site.

Hallock, in response, said she’s been open about the fact that she rents out the property when she’s not there. She has spoken about the property before the City Council and at a landlord forum, she said.

“It is my full-time residence, and I’ve been very open about my use of it,” she said. “At the landlord tenant forum, I spoke about how the city was very hostile toward the use of my private property as I pleased.”

Hallock took issue with the accuracy of Homer’s allegations.

“Lisa’s claims are inaccurate in many respects, and I have no idea how she could possibly know with precision my comings and goings without attempting to watch my home,” Hallock said.

Address rules

According to state law, candidates for a City Council district position must be a registered voter in the city limits and the council districts for which they are running. address , said Yakima County Elections Manager Kathy Fisher.

Fisher said voters who believe they have evidence a candidate fails to qualify for the ballot or does not live at the listed voter registration address can file a challenge.

A copy of the complaint against Hallock was dropped off Monday afternoon at the Yakima Herald-Republic. Yakima County Elections Manager Kathy Fisher said the official complaint will be published on the office’s website within 72 hours.

The Herald-Republic is not disclosing the contested addresses to protect the individuals’ privacy.

Hallock advanced in the August primary with 607 votes, or about 33% of the total. She faces Soneya Lund in November general election. Lund received 686 votes in the primary, or about 37%.

Background

A vacation rental property site shows the residence was rented by nine guests from February through June. One person who commented mentioned a conversation that she had with Hallock in which Hallock referred to the property as her “full-time home.”

Bruce Benscoter, a personal security officer with 24/7 security solutions, emailed the newspaper a written statement saying that he provides security for Hallock and her family at the contested address.

Benscoter wrote in his email that Hallock does occupy the residence, though “at times does not stay at her house due to her business and personal issues” and busy schedule. He also noted that some of Hallock’s personal belongings had been stolen from the property in July.

In response to a public records request, the Yakima Police Department provided a record of the official report filed by Hallock after a burglary at the residence.

Homer also alleges in the challenge that Hallock’s child attends a school in District 6 as evidence that Hallock doesn’t live in District 5.

District choice is a state policy. West Valley Superintendent Michael Brophy confirmed that the district accepts transfer students, as long as school capacity allows. By law, anyone can transfer districts as long as the districts they are leaving and entering approve, he said.

Hallock said her child attends a school in District 6 because that is where her friends are.

The process

Upon receiving a challenge form, the county elections department reviews it for factual evidence, notifies the challenger and the challenged voter via certified mail, posts the challenge documents on the county elections department’s website, and sets a hearing time and date.

Fisher said the hearing date for Homer’s challenge has yet to be determined. A county elections official or the County Canvassing Board will preside over the hearing, which will be open to the public. Decisions can be appealed in Superior Court.

Yakima County Auditor Charles Ross said the office has investigated only two other registration challenges in the past five years, both from 2017.

Ross noted that voter registration challenges have to be filed at least 45 days before an election to affect the validity of the ballot. Ballots were mailed last week.

If Hallock wins the election for District 5, and those results are contested, the matter then would be determined by a court ruling, Ross said.

Reporters Janelle Retka and Aidian Holder contributed to this story.

Reach Lex Talamo at ltalamo@yakimaherald.com or on Twitter: @LexTalamo.