Sheridan County Republican Gail Symons said.
“Specifically, what he’s (Miller) doing is ignoring the sub-paragraphs [of Wyoming Statute 18-3-524], that says if they do not select one, then it goes to the District Court
When a judge is looking at this, it’s like, ‘Well, if the Legislature didn’t intend for there to be another path, then they wouldn’t have put that in there.’”
The path Symons is alluding to is a fall back should all explicit directions fail. Miller is clearly correct, if the directions are simply adhered to. Symons seems to be banking on incompetence for all involved - county central committee members, which she is one, and county commissioners alike.
Commentary will be inserted between paragraphs as needed to add discussion of the Wyoming Statutes in question.
18-3-524. Appointments to fill vacancies; term.
(a) Within twenty (20) days after the office of any county commissioner becomes vacant the remaining members of the board shall declare a vacancy to exist and immediately give notice of the vacancy in writing to the chairman of the county central committee of the political party which the member whose office is vacant represented at the time of his election under W.S. 22-6-120(a)(vii), or at the time of his appointment if not elected to office. The chairman of the county central committee shall within twenty (20) days after receipt of the notice call a meeting of the county central committee. At the meeting the committee shall select three (3) persons qualified to fill the vacancy and transmit the names to the board of county commissioners. The board of county commissioners shall fill the vacancy within twenty (20) days after receiving the list from the county central committee by appointing one (1) of the persons whose names are submitted by the county central committee:
Commentary: 18-3-524(a) establishes the expectations on the county central committee.
(i) If the county central committee fails to select and transmit the list of three (3) names to the board of county commissioners within twenty (20) days, the board shall fill the vacancy by the appointment of any qualified person belonging to the same political party the incumbent commissioner represented at the time of his election or appointment if not elected to office;
Commentary: 18-3-524(a)(i) establishes the expectations should the county central committee fail it's obligations, yet the incumbent did represent a political party.
(ii) If the incumbent commissioner did not represent any political party at the time of his election or appointment, the board of county commissioners shall publish in a newspaper of general circulation in the county notice that within twenty (20) days after publication any qualified person may make application directly to the county commissioners for appointment to fill the vacancy. Within twenty (20) days after the application deadline the county commissioners shall fill the vacancy by appointment of one (1) person qualified from those submitting applications.
Commentary: 18-3-524(a)(ii) establishes the expectations, if the incumbent commissioner had no party affiliations. However the final sentence, Within twenty (20) days after the application deadline the county commissioners shall fill the vacancy by appointment of one (1) person qualified from those submitting applications, explicitly states the expectation should the stated conditions be met.
(b) If the remaining members of the board of county commissioners fail to fill any vacancy in a board of county commissioners within the time specified in this section, any qualified elector of the county may file a petition with the clerk of the district court of the county in which the vacancy occurred requesting the judge of the district court to fill the vacancy:
Commentary: 18-3-524(b) establishes the expectations, if the previous paragraphs failed to address the situations involved in appointing a person to the vacancy.
(i) Within twenty (20) days after the petition is filed the judge shall fill the vacancy by appointing a qualified elector of the county belonging to the same political party the incumbent commissioner represented at the time of his election or appointment. If the incumbent commissioner did not represent any political party at the time of his election or appointment the judge may appoint any qualified person to fill the vacancy.
(c) Every person appointed county commissioner shall serve until a successor is elected at the next general election and takes office on the first Monday of the following January.
(d) For purposes of this section a person shall be considered to "represent" a political party if he was a nominee of that political party when elected to office or when appointed to fill a vacancy in office.
18-3-523. Removal from office.
(a) If any county commissioner refuses or neglects without just cause to perform any duties required of him as a member of the board of county commissioners or knowingly commits any act which by law is in violation of his official oath and bond, charges in writing may be made against him before the district judge of the district in which the county is situated. Notice of filing and a copy of the charges shall be served upon the accused by the sheriff of the county within ten (10) days after the charges are filed with the clerk of the district court. The cause shall be tried not later than thirty (30) days from the filing of the charges and shall be by the court without the intervention of a jury. After submission of the proof the commissioner shall be removed from office by the governor of the state.
Commentary: 18-3-523(a) establishes the consequences of disregarding the word shall in the last sentence of 18-3-524(a)(ii).
(b) If charges against a county commissioner are filed with the governor, he shall cause the accused commissioner to be served with a copy of the charges and notice of the time the governor will hear the matter. The hearing before the governor shall be not less than twenty (20) days after the date of the notice.
Now is the time to resolve any misunderstanding in the public's understanding of our own Wyoming Statutes.
To Gail Symons or any Citizen of Sheridan County: let's continue this debate until it is resolved, so we can avoid any unnecessary consequences.