CONTROVERSY STIRS OVER GRANTSVILLE COUNCIL ELIGIBILITY

(06/24/2011)

By Bob Weaver

Following Grantsville's town election last week, some residents have complained about the eligibility of two candidates for town council, indicating they do not live within the corporate limits.

The issue surfaced when it was discovered that the county's E-911 addressing system placed two newly elected council members in a voting district outside the town.

Erin Barnhart and Andrew Smith were among the three highest vote getters, and live in a house near the town limits on Route 16 south.

Calhoun County Clerk Mike Ritchie said, "The candidates in question live in a home long considered to be within the corporation limit."

Ritchie said when Barnhart and Smith registered to vote, computerized E-911 addressing automatically put them in a voting district outside the town. "The system was in place when I became County Clerk," he said.

Mayor-elect Curt Garretson said he would be working with the council to clearly define the town's boundaries to resolve any problems in the future, including "finding the town's charter or creating a new one."

Longtime Grantsville businessman and property owner Keith Smith, who owns the location in question, said he has purchased municipal business license for 26 years, and paid taxes that went to the town and used municipal services. Smith, himself, was a one-time councilman.

New council members, Andrew Smith and Erin Barnhart are his children, living on the property.

Town recorder Helen Johnson said Thursday the canvas did not change outcomes of the election, and that no one filed a formal complaint regarding the issue. The election will be certified Friday morning.

County Clerk Ritchie said, "I called the Secretary of State's Office on the day of the canvass, seeking a solution, and they referred me to the Prosecuting Attorney for advice. A legal answer will be given as soon as it is resolved."

The town's newly elected officials will be sworn-in today in Grantsville and the officials will begin a two-year term on July 1.


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