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Vial cleared of violating elections laws

RICH VIALState elections officials have affirmed that a legislative hopeful from the Scholls area lives within the district he seeks to serve and is qualified to run for the seat.

House District 26 candidate Richard Vial did not violate elections law when he reported his address as 12840 S.W. River Road in Hillsboro on filing documents last March, an investigation by the Oregon Secretary of State's Office concluded this week.

Although Vial owns another home down the road — 25995 Rainbow Lane in Hillsboro, which lies in a different legislative district — elections officials found his primary residence is on Southwest River Road and, therefore, he should not be disqualified in the Nov. 8 race.

Vial, a Republican, is running against Ray Lister, a Democrat from Wilsonville. Neither has run for public office before.

Kathleen Stuart, executive director of Future PAC, a campaign arm of the Oregon House Democrats, sent a complaint to the Secretary of State's office in September alleging Vial had violated elections laws by falsely representing where he lives and asking that he be declared ineligible. Stuart's complaint included documentation — blog entries and Facebook posts — she said proved Vial and his wife, Paula, live on Rainbow Lane, located a couple miles from the River Road house and just over the line into House District 24.

Her letter suggested the Vials had moved to the Rainbow Lane home several years ago after remodeling the River Road property into a wedding and events venue known as Scholls Valley Lodge.

Vial said the couple raised their large family on that property, which they purchased in 1986, but sometimes stayed in the Rainbow Lane home when the lodge was occupied.

In response to Stuart's letter, Vial sent tax statements, a copy of his Oregon driver's license and copies of his car registrations to prove he lives within House District 26 boundaries.

Last Thursday, Sept. 29, Aleea Sharp, investigations and legal specialist for the Secretary of State's Office, sent a letter to Stuart saying she had found “insufficient evidence” to support her claims, called her request to disqualify Vial “moot” and declared the investigation closed.

Reached Tuesday morning, Vial said he was "pleased" by the investigation's outcome but "sorry we had to spend the time and resources to respond to something I felt was frivolous in the first place."

Still, Vial acknowledged that "living in your district is an important part of asking the people in that district to vote for you."

The House District 26 seat is currently held by John Davis (R-Wilsonville), who is not seeking reelection. Republicans have controlled the HD 26 position for the last decade, and next month's election offers Democrats a chance to regain it. HD 26 stretches from Hillsboro south to Sherwood and east to Wilsonville.