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Thursday, February 29, 2024
Feb. 29, 2024

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Woman files lawsuit, wants Orange off ballot

Vancouver resident says candidate does not live in port district

By , Columbian staff writer

A Vancouver woman has filed a lawsuit to have Port of Vancouver commissioner candidate Don Orange removed from the general election ballot.

Carolyn Crain, a registered voter in the port’s Commissioner District 1, filed her complaint with Clark County Superior Court on Thursday. She alleges Orange doesn’t live in the port district and therefore isn’t eligible to be elected as a commissioner.

The suit asks Clark County Auditor Greg Kimsey to take Don Orange’s name off the ballot.

Orange said the lawsuit was an attempt to knock him out of the race “on foolish charges” and is “an aim at damaging democracy.”

“This is an insult to my character,” he said. “It’s made-up nonsense.”

Orange has owned a home outside of the port district since the mid-1980s, but said he rented an apartment within Commissioner District 1 and registered to vote there specifically so he could run for office.

Crain doesn’t believe it. In addition to her lawsuit, she filed a voter challenge with the Clark County Canvasing Board.

Crain, who is active in Republican politics, said she is often told that people don’t vote because they believe “the system is rigged,” according to a statement prepared by her attorney, Angus Lee.

“I tell them it is not rigged,” she wrote. “Before, I could swear that to be true. However, when a person who is not a resident of ANY Vancouver port district at all pretends to move but hasn’t really moved into the district it isn’t even carpet bagging (sic). It’s the rigging of the system and the theft of my right to proper representation in my district.”

Crain’s petition offers 26 allegations to support her claim.

Among them, she alleges that Orange was appointed to be a precinct committee officer for the Clark County Democrats less than a week before he filed to run as a port commissioner.

According to the document, Crain used online directories such as www.address.com to show Orange’s name is still listed at his original property. She also used the real estate website www.zillow.com to verify that his house isn’t listed as for sale or for rent.

It also claims Orange’s wife is still registered to vote at the couple’s original home address and Orange still receives his mail there.

Crain also claims to have knocked on Orange’s apartment door at least 20 times between late May and late July, but no one answered.

To that point, Orange said he’s never home because he’s busy running his auto repair business in Vancouver’s Uptown Village as well as running a campaign.

“I work hard everyday and I campaign hard everyday; and when you do what I’m doing you basically have two full-time jobs,” Orange said. “Her contention is I don’t live there because she doesn’t find me there when she drops by at various times in the day.”

The race between Orange and Greene is perhaps the most closely watched election in Clark County this year. It is viewed by many as a referendum on the divisive and controversial Vancouver Energy oil terminal.

Orange decided to relocate and run for office after becoming frustrated with the current port commission’s past closed-door meetings on the oil terminal project and the three-member commission’s ongoing support for the project.

“To me, our campaign is all about transparency and an end to doing things in the back room,” he said.

“This is where my heart is and this is why I moved,” he added.

Orange said he will have an attorney represent him in the proceedings.

In previous interviews, Orange has said he plans to buy a home in the district after he wins the election, but was too busy to start house shopping right away.

Orange’s opponent, Kris Greene, was recovering from a medical procedure on Friday and was unable to comment.

Orange is one of a handful of political hopefuls who have changed addresses to seek office.

Outgoing District 1 Commissioner Brian Wolfe rented a house in the district about two weeks before filing for the election in 2005.

That same year, then former 18th District legislator Tom Mielke, a Republican and then a Battle Ground resident, bought a condominium in the VanMall neighborhood and two weeks later announced a run for the Board of Clark County Commissioners.

In 2004, Jeanne Harris announced plans to move into county commissioner District 3 shortly after losing the race for District 2.

In 2015, Monica Stonier moved out of the 17th Legislative District, a swing district, and into the solidly Democratic 49th District, where she won election to the state House the following year.

Columbian staff writer