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Hatler to keep conservation seat

The Clallam Conservation District can get back to its busy agenda now that the disputed Feb. 19 election is settled, said District Commissioner Don Hatler.

"I believe it is over," Hatler said with a laugh when contacted last week about the state Conservation District board of director's May 21 decision regarding the election.

"There's a lot of really important stuff we have to do and this has been a distraction. I'm anxious to put our full attention to things that need to get done."

Mike Wiley Jr., 19, of Joyce, defeated Hatler, the incumbent, in the Feb. 19 Clallam Conservation District election with 114 write-in votes to Hatler's 60.

But the district's rules say at least two members of the three-person board - which in this case included Hatler's seat - must be a landowner or farm operator, which means earning at least $500 in three of the past five years.

Wiley is a 2007 Port Angeles High School graduate who is attending Peninsula College to study forestry and conservation. He lives with his parents on five acres in Joyce and also works full time at Armstrong Marine in Port Angeles.

At its May 21 meeting, the state Commission accepted the Clallam Conservation District's board of commissioners' vote and a state Attorney General's opinion that Hatler should retain his seat because Wiley was ineligible at the time of the election. Wiley was found to be neither a land owner nor an active farmer at the time of the election.

A call on May 22 to the Clallam County Republican Party, which urged Wiley to run, was not returned. Hatler said Wiley wasn't at the last Conservation District Commission meeting and he's never spoken with Wiley.

However, he added, "The door's open.

"We're happy to have him as a volunteer for the plant sales or other activities we are involved with. We have various projects at any given time."

Reach Brian Gawley at bgawley@sequimgazette.com.

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