Deceased candidate elected to Oak Harbor cemetery commission

Oak Harbor resident David McNeely passed away Aug. 10 at the age of 71.

That didn’t stop him from winning a seat on the cemetery district board.

And he didn’t just win. McNeely earned 58 percent of the vote against still-living candidate Lee Koetje.

David McNeely’s widow, Marilyn McNeely, said he would be very pleased.

“He was a person who liked to be involved, liked to make a difference,” she said. “He would have done a good job.”

Island County Deputy Auditor Michele Reagan said she was aware that McNeely had passed away and contacted the state Auditor’s Office for guidance.

She was told that a candidate who filed for office can’t be taken off the ballot without a court order.

“This is the first time this has happened since I’ve been here,” said Reagan, who’s been with the county for nearly a decade.

Reagan said the cemetery board will have to appoint someone to fill the position. That person will serve a two-year term until the next cemetery district election in 2015.

She said she was told by the State Auditor’s Office that a few deceased candidates were on ballots in other counties.

In fact, a couple of them also did well enough to win.

In Des Moines, the late John Rosentangle won 71 percent of the vote Tuesday over write-in candidates in the King County Water District 54. In Aberdeen, the late John Erak earned 53 percent of the vote in a council race, the Peninsula Daily News reported.

In the other cemetery commissioner race, Katherine Roehm came out on top against challengers David Watson and Michael Knippers.

Michael Dougliss, the caretaker of Maple Leaf Cemetery, knew the McNeelys through their church.

The two couples were good friends and the two men served together on the church board.

Dougliss said the McNeelys moved to Oak Harbor about three years ago. He said David McNeely wanted to serve the community, so he told him about the cemetery district board.

Marilyn McNeely said her husband wasn’t happy about how the cemetery commissioners treated Dougliss and other cemetery employees during a controversy last year and felt there was a need for change on the board. She said the voters showed that they feel that way too.

McNeely was well known in the community for being there such a short time, Dougliss said.

“He was a really nice guy. Really friendly. He would talk to anyone,” Dougliss said. “I really miss him.”


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