New Mayor Faces Residency Challenge -- Woodinville Heritage Can't Halt Suit To Nullify Election
WOODINVILLE - The DeYoung family has been a driving force in the area known as Woodinville for three generations.
So it was no surprise when the newly elected council for the soon-to-be incorporated city elected Lucy DeYoung to be the first mayor.
But here's the twist: Although the DeYoungs have been Woodinville residents for more than 70 years, the controversy now swirling around the new mayor centers on whether she had the proper legal roots. Specifically, whether she had legally resided in the city long enough.
A lawsuit filed in King County Superior Court last week asks that DeYoung's election last month be nullified on the grounds that she did not live in the city for a full year before the election, as state law requires.
Woodinville resident Andy Crick said he wanted to have a court rule on DeYoung's residency, but could not file the lawsuit himself because he is a British citizen. Instead, he asked a resident outside the city, Chuck Eberhart, to put his name to the suit. Crick is paying for an attorney, David Richardson, to represent Eberhart.
Under state law, a residence "means a person's permanent address where he physically resides and maintains his abode." Several months before the election, DeYoung moved to an apartment in the city. But for much of the year before the election, the lawsuit alleges, she actually lived at her parents' house and her boyfriend's house - both outside the boundaries of incorporated
Woodinville - while keeping as her legal address her office in the city.
DeYoung says it is true that she spent some time at both those places. But it is no secret, she said, that her office was her legal address for 4 1/2 years, after she moved back to Woodinville from Chicago. "I have slept in my office, and I have eaten at my office," she said yesterday.
Did she spend a majority of her time there? "I don't quite know how to respond to that - I don't know what a majority of time is," she said.
DeYoung, 42, added that she spent "a sufficient amount of time" in her office to establish it as her residence. Pressed to define what amount of time would be "sufficient," she said it "is up to the courts to decide."
The residency issue came up, briefly, near the end of the council election campaign a month ago, and it has been discussed openly since then. But it took some time to find someone to bring a lawsuit against the new mayor, opponents say, because nobody wants to get on the bad side of one of the area's most well-connected families.
"The DeYoungs practically own the place," said Crick. "They're the No. 1 people in the area, and I guess people are scared of them."
Scared of the DeYoungs? Lucy DeYoung says that's ridiculous.
"I wish we had all the power these people think we do," she said.
The name DeYoung is synonymous with Woodinville.
John DeYoung and his wife, Ellen, moved to Woodinville from Kent and owned a shingle mill, a mercantile, a hardware store and a lettuce-packing plant in Woodinville in the 1920s and 1930s. A generation later, his son, Lowell DeYoung, owns DeYoung's Farm and Garden; 15 acres of undeveloped land in downtown Woodinville, and the T&D Feed store in Redmond.
John's other son, Al, owns Canterbury Estates, an 18-acre mobile-home park in downtown Woodinville.
And John DeYoung's granddaughter Lucy owns DeYoung and Co., financial advisers.
"I'm very proud to be a DeYoung," Lucy said.
Her family's strong ties to the land were an issue during the campaign, when opponent Barbara Solberg questioned whether DeYoung could be impartial if land-use decisions affecting her family came before the council.
And Bob Dixon, who ran unsuccessfully for a council seat, thinks Woodinville residents - particularly downtown merchants - are "afraid of the power of the DeYoungs."
Dixon said he was contacted by a man he wouldn't name - but not Crick - who asked, "Do you want to get Lucy?" by filing a lawsuit.
"Who wants to look like they're after somebody?" asked Dixon, who said he plans to run again for a council position. Dixon said anyone in town with political aspirations probably felt the same way.
Meanwhile, another unsuccessful council candidate has raised questions about the legality of the incorporation election. In a Nov. 30 letter to the King County Records and Elections office, Bruce MacKintosh asserted that residents of an apartment complex, Kingsgate Ridge Manor, were not allowed to vote in the Nov. 3 election.
But Records and Elections supervisor Jane Hague said she had already researched the question and didn't believe it was an issue. Hague said that 20 voters living in an apartment complex were actually allowed to vote although they didn't live in city limits - but that their votes wouldn't have changed the outcome of the election.
Copyright (c) 1992 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.