WENATCHEE — The kitchen remodel of the family’s old farmhouse that sits across the highway from where Tim Larson and his wife have lived for 42 years is expected to be finished by January.
When that happens, the Larsons intend to move in, giving them a new address — in the Cashmere School District.
That’s why Larson, 67, tried this summer to withdraw his bid for Wenatchee School Board Position 2 that he’d filed for in May, challenging incumbent Karina Vega-Villa. He knew the move, once completed, would make him ineligible to serve if he won.
He announced in August he was no longer interested and was taking steps to get his name removed from the official general election ballot.
“I was trying to be transparent and upfront,” Larson said. “When my wife decided she wanted to move, I went right down there and told them I wanted to withdraw.”
It turns out, that’s not an easy thing to do, a lesson Chelan County Auditor Skip Moore didn’t fully embrace at the time.
It takes more than filing a change of address, which Larson did.
“I was all ready to remove him from the ballot and I was contacted by the Secretary of State’s Office that we couldn’t take him off the ballot without a court order,” Moore said. “So we had to leave him on the ballot.”
For Vega-Villa, that meant rather than running unopposed, she technically had a challenger and had to garner more votes to retain the seat.
In the meantime, a confirmation card for Larson’s new address came back as invalid, making Larson’s voter registration inactive, so he reverted to his previous address, in the Wenatchee School District, Moore said.
On Tuesday night, Larson took 56% of the vote to Vega-Villa’s 44%.
“I was a bit surprised, honestly,” Larson said. “I thought, well, I need to figure this out.”
He called Moore Wednesday morning to learn that yes, he could claim the seat if he won, even though he had tried to withdraw and announced that he wasn’t running.
“I told him how he handles it is up to him. If he refuses, the board will have to appoint somebody,” Moore said.
Larson on Thursday said he is leaning toward accepting the post, even if it’s just for a few months.
“My intent in running was to provide some service for my community. That’s all I wanted to do,” he said. “I never intended for any of this to come down this way. When was the last time someone won an election without campaigning?”
Larson said he will seek input from the sitting board members.
“If me taking the oath of office and serving even for a short period of time is detrimental, I won’t take the oath,” he said. “I know the board has to appoint someone to replace me as soon as I move out of the district. It’s up to the sitting board to decide.”
If his lead holds by the time the election is certified on the morning of Nov. 26, he could take the oath of office at the school board meeting that night and serve until January — or whenever they move into the farmhouse.
“We are moving,” he said. “I am anticipating taking the oath, but if something comes up between now and then, and it appears the board members or the superintendent don’t feel it’s in the district’s best interest, then I won’t do that.”
Moore said this is a first for him.
“Had this occurred six or seven years ago, he would have been off the ballot, but changes in the law have taken away that option,” he said.