Judge denies motion asking candidate John Ley’s name to be removed from Aug. 2 primary election ballot

Clark County Superior Court Judge David Gregerson conducts hearing Wednesday on lawsuit filed by Clark County residents Carolyn Crain and Penny Ross

A second attempt by Clark County residents to have the name of legislative candidate John Ley removed from the ballot for the Aug. 2 primary election was rejected by a Clark County Superior Court judge Wednesday morning.

John Ley
John Ley

At the end of the 27-minute hearing, Judge David Gregerson denied a motion filed by area residents Carolyn Crain and Penny Ross, who were seeking a court order for Ley’s name to be removed from the ballot. Ley filed as a candidate for state representative in the 18th District (position 2). Ley is one of four candidates who have filed for the seat. The others are Brad Benton, Duncan Camacho and Greg Cheney.

“I was hoping the judge could reconcile this tough situation, but I don’t think that happened,’’ said Clark County Auditor Greg Kimsey. “We’re still left with a very difficult situation.’’

Crain originally filed a voter registration challenge, claiming that the address Ley used at the time of his declaration of candidacy was not accurate. Ley, who owns a home in Camas, changed the address on his voter registration on April 4 after he stated he had a verbal agreement with the owner of a Battle Ground residence to rent a bedroom at the rate of $1 per month. On May 17, Ley filed his declaration of candidacy for the 18th Legislative District seat. On May 26, the Clark County Elections Department received Crain’s challenge to Ley’s voter registration claiming the Battle Ground address was not his accurate address.

Clark County Auditor Greg Kimsey
Clark County Auditor Greg Kimsey

Kimsey held a hearing on June 28, at which both Crain and Ley appeared and offered testimony and evidence. In a letter dated July 8, Kimsey found that as of the date (May 26) of Crain’s challenge, Ley did not reside at the Battle Ground address. However, he communicated that his ruling had no impact on Ley’s candidacy. Kimsey said he had no authority to affect Ley’s candidacy, including removing his name from the Aug. 2 ballot or counting votes for the candidate.

“There are two separate processes,’’ Kimsey said. “His voter registration is one process. The candidate status is separate. That’s for the judge to deal with. That’s not for the county auditor to deal with.’’

The lawsuit filed earlier this week by Crain and Ross asked the judge to determine Ley’s candidacy to be invalid, claiming the auditor and the Clark County Elections Department did have the authority to remove Ley’s name from the ballot.

During Wednesday’s hearing, Crain and Ross were represented by Attorney Andrew Stokesbary (a current Republican representative in the 31st District), who asked the judge for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction. Gregerson then asked the county to assess whether that resolution would be more harmful than the matter at hand. Attorney Amanda Migchelbrink represented the county.

Kimsey told Clark County Today Wednesday that because the ballots had already been printed (with Ley’s name), and were scheduled to be mailed this week, it would cost the county about $570,000 to reprint new ballots, mail them and to reprogram the election voting system. And, in addition to the cost, Kimsey said it was unlikely they could do so by the Aug. 2 primary election date.

“The first bottom line is it’s very, very unlikely that we could reprogram the election,’’ Kimsey told Clark County Today. “Our representation to the court was it was going to take us 21 days to get those ballots mailed out to voters.’’

Kimsey said it would cost approximately $270,000 to print and mail new ballots. The additional expense, estimated at $300,000, would be the result of reprogramming the election voting system. Kimsey said that would be necessary because the existing ballots are scheduled to be mailed Thursday. If they are mailed, he anticipated as many as 100,000 of those ballots would be returned by voters prior to the new ballots being mailed. He said the election voting system will not process the old ballots once the new ballots are created and it would cost about $3 per ballot for the reprogramming process.

“That’s why I have been saying it’s just not practical at this point to send out new ballots,’’ Kimsey said. “There’s no really good scenario right now. The judge didn’t have any magic dust.’’

On July 4, Ley registered to vote at a different address in the 18th District, in Hazel Dell, where he rents an apartment. He said one of the owners of the Battle Ground residence, which he described as snowbirds, had since returned from Arizona and that he did not stay at that residence when the homeowners were there.

Ley has been a resident of Clark County since 1991. Until last year’s redistricting process took place, his Camas home was located in the 18th District. The redistricting process changed the boundary and his Camas home now is located in the 17th District.

“I’ve been up front during this entire process and I have nothing to hide from the voters,’’ Ley told Clark County Today Wednesday. “I’m glad this is now behind me. I look forward to finishing the primary season and giving the voters the opportunity to make an informed decision about my candidacy to represent them.’’

Kimsey previously told Clark County Today that his July 8 ruling on Crain’s original challenge only addressed whether or not Ley was residing at the Battle Ground address on May 26, the day he received Crain’s complaint. Kimsey said then that there are only two provisions that would prevent the Elections Department from placing Ley’s name on the ballot. The first would be a challenge to his declaration of candidacy made to a judge within two days of the closing of the candidate filing period, which was May 20. Crain’s challenge was made to the Elections Department on May 26.

The timeline for the second provision will come after the Aug. 2 primary election. A challenge can be made within three days after the results of the primary election are certified, asking a judge to prevent the Elections Department from placing a candidate’s name on the Nov. 8 general election ballot.

“Those are the two provisions where a candidate’s name can be prevented from being placed on the ballot,’’ Kimsey said. “It doesn’t affect his name being on the ballot and it doesn’t affect our ability to count votes on the ballot for Mr. Ley.’’

Ley previously told Clark County Today there is a specific reason why he filed for the seat in the 18th Legislative District, rather than file in the 17th District where he owns his home.

“The answer resides in my passion for serving the people and fighting the Interstate Bridge replacement project,’’ Ley said. “I would like a seat on the Bi-state Bridge Committee of 16 legislators and given the current composition and realities, (Rep.) Paul Harris and (Sen.) Lynda Wilson are the legislators of the 17th District that are already on the committee.

“The example of (Rep.) Vicki Kraft trying to fight for common sense and have a voice on that committee rang true to me. She has tried to do the right thing, but the politics have not allowed her to get a seat on the committee in spite of her passion and interest,’’ Ley said. “When it became clear that both (Rep.) Brandon Vick and (Rep.) Larry Hoff were not going to run for reelection, that guaranteed a seat on the Bi-state Bridge Committee would come open. While it is by no means a guarantee that I could get that seat on the committee of legislators, my hope is that should the people elect me, I would then work in Olympia to be allowed to have that open seat, which is currently occupied by Brandon Vick.

“We don’t have enough legislators asking hard questions about the project,’’ Ley added. “With a seat at the table, I would be able to help Sen. Wilson and others who would ask hard questions and demand legitimate answers instead of being ignored or mislead like we are today.’’

Ley said he anticipated the challenge to his voter registration.

“I have been in Clark County now, officially, since January of 1991 so that’s over 30 years,’’ Ley said. “I know the issues. I know the people. Having been a candidate for office, I have met with citizens, attended council meetings all over Clark County and feel very comfortable offering my services to represent the people. In this instance, both my old and new districts have overlapped, and as noted, a line was changed. I felt this is how I can best effect change, especially with regards to the Interstate Bridge replacement program, and that was by getting a seat on the Bi-state Legislative Committee.’’

Editor’s note: John Ley is a former Clark County Today staff reporter. After 20 months as a full-time reporter, Ley resigned his position on April 22, prior to registering as a political candidate. Like other members of the community he occasionally still contributes content. 

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  1. Margaret

    In 2017, Crain filed a lawsuit to remove candidate Don Orange off the ballot, claiming that he did not live in the district. Orange was a longtime homeowner in Clark County, and moved to an apartment in a different district to run for Port of Vancouver Commissioner. He and his wife did not sell his house, and his wife was still registered to vote at the house. As evidence in that case, Crain said she knocked on the door of the apartment at least 20 times, and there was no answer. The judge ruled in favor of Orange, who went on to win a seat as Port Commissioner.

    As a citizen, Ley has actively researched and shared information on issues that impact residents with elected officials and the public for many years. In 2012 citizens in every city in Clark County voted against the CTRAN proposition to raise taxes to extend TriMet Max light rail into Clark County and Ley faithfully urged the CTRAN board to heed to that vote. However, the CTRAN board in a sneaky maneuver called a special meeting to approve a contract for light rail with TriMet that not all CTRAN board members had even seen prior to approval! Some of the CTRAN board members appeared not to have even realized that they had voted to approve the contract by a single vote.

    In 2013, in a county-wide advisory vote to the Clark County Council, citizens Citizens passed an advisory vote to the Clark County Council to oppose any Light Rail project in Clark County unless it is first supported by a majority of the voters in a county-wide advisory vote of the people.

    Ignoring the voters, the CTRAN board on July 12, 2022 approved light rail on an I-5 replacement bridge as the “locally preferred alternative”. Again, Ley was at the CTRAN meeting as he has been so often for so many years, with facts and data about low public transit use across the bridge (~1.7% of trips across the bridge pre-pandemic) that in no way warrants over $1 BILLION for costly light rail that citizens have repeatedly rejected at the ballot box.

    Ley’s input to the Regional Transportation Council, CTRAN, and the Interstate Bridge Committee can be seen at his website, where he continues to share vital information with the public as he has faithfully done, and continues to do.

    1. Jenn Duvall

      Ley was willing to lie to voters. Why would a good man who works tirelessly to inform voters on key issues be so bold and get an apartment in another district to run for office? If he was serious about representing the voters he wishes to represent, then he should have sold his home in Camas and actually moved.

      1. Margaret

        There was no lie to voters. Ley’s explanation for why he is running in the 18th District is explained in the article.

        1. Jenn Duvall

          When I asked him on Facebook messenger if any of this was true he did not respond. Why would a candidate rent an apartment in one district and own a home in another?? Simple truth is that he is lying to voters. His explanation is flimsy at best. Makes no sense. Run where you live or actually live where you want to run. Carpetbaggers need to be called out.

      2. Karen

        Hm. CCRCC executive board member insulting a Republican candidate, classy or with this board, Standard Operating Procedure.

      3. K.J. Hinton

        Like you were willing to lie to PCO’s when you sent out that fake email claiming *I* wrote it?

        See, you’re hardly in a position to throw rocks at ANYONE else when it comes to lying or anything else related to integrity.

        I get that like the rest of your cult members, you hate conservatives. I get that the social circuit is a big deal for you.

        But you’re hardly in a position to trash anyone else over anything else considering what YOU attempted to do to ME. And you lying about me should have resulted in your forced resignation.

        You have no moral high ground available. Seriously.

  2. Thomas Schenk

    It is interesting to view the activities of Carolyn Crain and Penny Ross relative to the candidacy of John Ley for the 18th Legislative District (LD) Representative, Position 2, currently held by Rep. Brandon Vick, who chose not to run for another term of office.

    In my experience, people do the controversial things they do because they are highly motivated by something. Analyzing the motivation…the why of what folks are doing…speaks volumes to where and why they are headed in the direction they have chosen.

    In this case, what is the motivation for Carolyn Crain and Penny Ross to enlist the assistance of Attorney Andrew “Drew” Stokesbary to try and stop John Ley from being elected to the position of Representative 2 in the 18th LD?

    Whatever that motivation is…it is significant enough to warrant them challenging a fellow Republican, a Conservative fellow Republican, in an attempt to prevent him from even being on the ballot. Again, I ask why?

    You may have heard there is a feud in the Republican Party in Clark County…described in some quarters as “the Hatfields and the McCoys”.

    I disagree. While there is a schism in the County Party, it is only a normal tug-of-war between differing opinions of how to get Republicans elected in Clark County.

    It is, however, painted by certain elements of the Party, as a war, thus giving the impression the current elected Executive Board members are under assault by radicals in the Party and potentially gleaning sympathy and support from under-informed Precinct Committee Officers (PCOs).

    What is really happening, in my opinion, is a slim majority of Executive Board members support Chairman Joel Mattila’s view of getting Republicans elected in Clark County.

    We are a microcosm of what is happening at the National level in the Republican Party. For over thirty years, since Ronald Reagan was elected President…serving two terms in office and ending in the 1992 election of Bill Clinton, elements of the Republican Party have endeavored to select candidates for office who would be acceptable to Independent voters or even some Democrats.

    Their idea was hard-core Conservatives could not be elected without those two groups. We were thus left with “squishy” Republican candidates who voters saw as, in my opinion, untrustworthy…untrustworthy because they would seldom take a stand on controversial issues.

    They carefully crafted their statements to not offend voters when in fact most voters deplore this “tap dance” by candidates.

    Voters do appreciate being told the truth by candidates relative to the positions they have on a wide variety of issues.

    So the schism which exists, and has existed, in the Republican Party is between what I, and others, call “establishment Republicans” and, currently “America First” Republicans, MAGA supporters and Populists, all of whom see restoring to the citizens of the United States our God given rights, secured by the Constitution, as the “hill to die on”.

    “Establishment Republicans” in many cases, do care about getting Republicans elected. But the caveat is to elect Republicans who see things their way…in order, in my opinion, to insure they remain in power and control of the Republican Party. In other words…”we need to elect those who will see it our way”.

    So…Carolyn Crain, Penny Ross and now Drew Stokesbary, who is an elected Republican in the 31st Legislative District near King and Pierce counties, are motivated to do everything they can to get John Ley off the ballot.

    Why? Maybe John Ley, as a true Conservative Republican candidate, poses a threat to the “establishment Republicans”. Or maybe the potential for John Ley, if elected, to gain a seat on the Commission overseeing the Interstate Bridge Replacement (IBR) fiasco and fighting to have the alternative plan of a third and possibly a fourth bridge to ease our traffic congestion instead of a 5 billion dollar boondoggle of replacing a bridge engineers have said is good for another 30 to 40 years.

    As the Judge in Oregon, who made the ruling which ultimately killed the Columbia River Crossing (CRC) project, stated in his order…the CRC was a “light rail” project in search of a bridge.

    The only thing different since that Judge’s ruling is the name change of the CRC to the IBR and the expenditure of millions more of taxpayer dollars trying to reinvent the wheel.

    So the closest competitor to John Ley for the 18th LD Representative is Greg Cheney, the current Treasurer of the Clark County Republican Central Committee (CCRCC) and one of those Executive Board members who support Chairman Mattila’s views on electing the “right” Republicans.

    I submit the impetus to prevent John Ley from running and winning the 18th LD Representative position, in Olympia, is to get Greg Cheney elected.

    So what will Cheney do, if elected, that John Ley couldn’t or wouldn’t do… an interesting question for Clark County voters to ponder.

    Motivation…it is a powerful thing and it contributes to choices being made which are not always in the best interests, in this case, of Clark County voters.

    1. Mary

      Wow! Mr Schenk, you are so right. The CCRCC executive board has been trying to put their thumb on the election scale for two years. Chair Mattila appointed Jamie’s Mom, and these fools upset because Mr. Ley is following the rules so they can’t get their way. If Greg Cheney hopefully is a better candidate then CCRCC treasurer, they should have nothing to worry about. Which goes to your question? Why is Jenn and others writing so much? John is a Republican, why don’t they want him elected? Is it just that Cheney is their friend? The lawyer, Drew, comes down from Seattle because he cares so much about our election? No way. John is a threat to a bigger plan which is these people want the bridge. A vote for Cheney is a vote for the bridge. And that is why these people will do and say anything to get John out. John is the only candidate that if appointed to the IBR board will fight against the bridge. And that, Mr. Schenk is called motivation! We are so screwed.

  3. Jenn Duvall

    While John Ley has been on top of the bridge debacle and I have great appreciation for him in that regard, it is clear that he is willing to lie to voters to further his political career (which has been non existant). I asked Ley point blank in a Facebook message if it was true that he didn’t live where he was running. He declined to answer. My understanding of this ruling is that Ley will not be on the general election ballot if for some reason he manages to get past the primary. I am extremely disappointed in his willingness to try to pull a fast one on voters. Carpetbagging is unacceptable. I find it appalling that Ley’s supporters were willing to look the other way. What else is Ley going to lie about? His credibility is shot. We want lawmakers who are honest and willing to be transparent. We don’t have that with Ley. He must drop out of the race now!!

    1. Margaret

      ” Kimsey said then that there are only two provisions that would prevent the Elections Department from placing Ley’s name on the ballot. The first would be a challenge to his declaration of candidacy made to a judge within two days of the closing of the candidate filing period, which was May 20. Crain’s challenge was made to the Elections Department on May 26.”
      Crain failed to meet the established deadline to challenge a candidacy, which was May 20. Now she is taking an unusual legal action for challenging a candidacy after some ballots are already mailed, instead of meeting the May 20 deadline.

      1. Jenn Duvall

        I’m in no way defending Crain. I’m not her biggest fan. I am however calling out Ley for the lies. If Ley gets past the primary (he most likely won’t) then he will not be on the general election ballot. Kimsey made it clear that the cost to reprint and send out new ballots would come at an extreme cost to the county. That cost should have been passed along to Ley. At any rate, he should drop out of the race now.

        1. Karen

          Jenn, John followed the rules. If you don’t like the rules get off your computer and change them. John follows rules. You as a CCRCC Executive Board member flaunt them at will. Oh, please ask me to cite examples! People in glass houses shouldn’t throw rocks.

  4. K.J. Hinton

    What I’m wondering is this: who’s behind yet another attempt to smear a conservative running for office? A RINO representative/Lawyer is involved. Who’s paying him? How did he get involved?

    Does anyone believe Crain just did this on her own? Who’s got the purse strings of this debacle?

  5. Margaret

    In 2013, a petition to the Vancouver City Council asking them to hold a public vote on whether city resources should be used to bring Oregon TriMet light rail to Vancouver was circulated. The signatures were submitted, and County Auditor Greg Kimsey and the election department struck down over 600 signatures, and the number of signatures collected were then short by just 32. However, a group of 75 people took Kimsey and Clark County to court, and on April 17, 2013 a Cowlitz County Superior Court Judge ruled in favor of the petitioners! Based on the judges ruling, the signatures were re-counted and found to be enough for the petition to qualify.
    In 2012, citizens in every city in Clark County had already voted down the CTRAN proposition to raise taxes to bring Oregon Trimet light rail into Clark County.
    Although the majority of the Vancouver City Council, including Bart Hansen, ignored the petition, and voted against allowing Vancouver citizens to vote on light rail at the city level, a county-wide vote was held in 2013. Citizens passed the 2013 advisory vote to the Clark County Council to oppose any Light Rail project in Clark County unless it is first supported by a majority of the voters in a county-wide advisory vote of the people.


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