Residency of hospital commission candidate challenged

Valley Medical Center - File Photo.
Valley Medical Center
— image credit: File Photo.

A challenge to the residency of a candidate for the Public Hospital District No. 1 Commission has been filed with the King County Department of Elections.

The division’s director, Sherril Huff, will hold a public administrative hearing at 2 p.m. Sept. 12 at the division’s Renton headquarters to consider the challenge.

Regardless of the outcome, the name of the challenged candidate, Dr. Tamara Sleeter, will appear in the Nov. 5 election because ballots are being printed on Sept. 10.

Sleeter is running against incumbent Sue Bowman for Position 5 on the commission.

The challenge was filed on Aug. 23 by Jim Sullivan, who lives in the hospital district.

Sullivan maintains that Sleeter actually lives at a house on 37th Place Southeast in Auburn, outside the hospital district.

In filing to run for the commission, Sleeter listed an address on Southeast 175th Place in Renton, which is in the district and is the address on her voter-registration card.

Sleeter was notified of the voter-registration challenge and hearing in a letter dated Aug. 30 from the Department of Elections. She can reply to the challenge at the hearing or submit an affidavit if she chooses not to attend, according to the letter. She can bring an attorney.

“The burden of proof is on him,” said Barbara Ramey, a spokeswoman for the elections department, of Sullivan’s challenge.

Sullivan outlined his research into Sleeter’s residency in a letter to Huff; he included declarations from two neighbors who live next to Sleeter’s Renton address that no one has lived in the house, apparently for years.

“My neighbors rarely see me,” she said in an interview. “I am such a night owl.”

His research showed that Sleeter’s name is listed on ownership documents maintained by the county Department of Assessments for the Auburn house but only her husband’s name is listed on the documents for the Renton house.

Sleeter said her husband purchased the Renton house just before their marriage, so it’s in his name. Renton has been their home for 24 years.

They purchased the home together in Auburn, where their children attend the  Auburn Adventist Academy.

They’ll return to Renton permanently when their senior graduates next year.

“We use the other for a school house,” she said; its purpose has been nearly filled, she said.

She’s at the Renton house most nights now and is preparing it for the move back, she said, including replacing the roof.

She says she doesn’t spend most of her time in any one place. “When my day is done, this is my home,” she said.

Sleeter is director of obstetrics for Valley Women’s Clinic, which has clinics in Renton and Covington.

The elections department doesn’t investigate residency issues, Ramey said. Instead, officials rely on a voter to “honestly tell us where they live” when they register and sign a sworn oath.

If Huff finds that Sleeter doesn’t live in the Renton house, she can change the address on her voter registration. The district commissioners would appoint a replacement commissioner if Sleeter wins the election and doesn’t live in the hospital district, according to Ramey.

The Bowman-Sleeter race is one of two commission races on the November ballot. The other race is for Anthony Hemstad’s commission seat between Barbara Drennen of Kent and Albert Haylor of Kent.

Hemstad chose not to seek re-election as he is moving from the district.

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