Although her name will appear on the August ballot, Jennifer Pekrul said she is no longer running for Kelso City Council after discovering she is not eligible for the position and receiving threats.
Pekrul, 31, said Tuesday she is withdrawing because she has lived in Kelso for less than one year and is therefore ineligible for a City Council position under city law. She said she’s moved in and out of Kelso for various reasons over the years.
Pekrul said she did not know about the residency rule before she filed for council position 6 on May 16.
Because she missed the May 20 deadline to withdraw, Pekrul’s name will still appear on August primary ballot. She said she can’t remove her name from the ballot now without a court order.
The race will still require an August primary election because three candidates, Pekrul, Lisa Alexander and Thomas Loren, filed for the seat. The top two finishers will face off in the November general election.
Pekrul said she found out about the problem after someone who is good friends with one of the other candidates for the council position sent a threatening message to her on Facebook.
The message said Pekrul “committed fraud and to protect my family while I can,” she said, declining to name the person.
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Pekrul received the message after announcing she was running on the Cowlitz County News Facebook group page, she said.
Along with the message, Pekrul said her friend received a text message with a photo of Pekrul’s partner’s criminal record. She said she doesn’t know how many people got the message or who sent it, but that she has some guesses based on the online threats.
Pekrul said she has stopped receiving threats and as of now she is not planning on reporting the messages to the police.
When she filed for the position, Pekrul said she didn’t expect to receive threats, but she has since heard from other people they had similar things happen to them when they tried to run for public office.
“If there was a problem, I would expect people would tell me, not threaten me,” Pekrul said. “I’m a reasonable person. If I’m invalid, I would withdraw.”
Pekrul said the threats have discouraged her from running in future elections.
“I hope that anybody that is running will openly say that they’re not okay with people doing that and that they don’t want that kind of help,” she said. “I wouldn’t want that kind of help.”