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Prop J Utility Tax Cutter & Mayoral Candidate Norm Ryan Again Sues City Hall Over Its Election Practices, Contends City Hall Is Letting Mayoral Candidate Dan Baker Use "Vice Mayor" In Ballot Designation Contrary to State Law


(January 24, 2002, initial posting 9:30 p.m., updated 10:15 p.m.) -- Prop. J utility tax cut leader and Mayoral candidate Norm Ryan, who sued City Hall and won injunctive relief over its use of taxpayer resources against his Nov. 2000 ballot measure, has filed suit against City Hall again...and is again is challenging City Hall election practices.

Mr. Ryan's suit alleges the City is violating a CA election statute by letting Vice Mayor and Mayoral candidate Dan Baker list himself on the ballot as "Vice Mayor" although ballot designations are limited to the candidate's current principal profession, vocation, or occupation.

Ryan scoffs at the notion that being the Council-chosen "Vice Mayor" is Baker's principal occupation. However, he isn't suing Baker. He's suing the City of LB (City Hall) for accepting "City Councilmember/vice mayor" as Baker's ballot designation despite a CA Elections Code provision that Ryan says should prevent it.

Ryan's suit cites CA Elections Code 13107, which governs ballots and provides in pertinent part that "immediately under the name of each candidate, and not separated from the name by any line, may appear at the option of the candidate only one of the following designations:

(1) Words designating the elective city, county, district, state, or federal office which the candidate holds at the time of filing the nomination documents to which he or she was elected by vote of the people...

(2) The word "incumbent" if the candidate is a candidate for the same office which he or she holds at the time of filing the nomination papers, and was elected to that office by a vote of the people...

(3) No more than three words designating either the current principal professions, vocations, or occupations of the candidate, or the principal professions, vocations, or occupations of the candidate during the calendar year immediately preceding the filing of nomination documents. For purposes of this section, all California geographical names shall be considered to be one word. Hyphenated words that appear in any generally available standard reference dictionary, published in the United States at any time within the 10 calendar years immediately preceding the election for which the words are counted, shall be considered as one word. Each part of all other hyphenated words shall be counted as a separate word.

(4) The phrase "appointed incumbent" if the candidate holds an office other than a judicial office by virtue of appointment, and the candidate is a candidate for election to the same office, or, if the candidate is a candidate for election to the same office or to some other office, the word "appointed" and the title of the office. In either instance, the candidate may not use the unmodified word "incumbent" or any words designating the office unmodified by the word "appointed."...

Ryan's position appears to be basically that City Hall's acceptance of Baker's listing of "Vice Mayor" as his "principal occupation" is without merit...and Section 13107 allows "only one" designation and Baker's designation as "City Council Member" and "Vice Mayor" are two.

Moreover, Ryan contends that even if Baker tried to dispense with the label "City Council Member," he would still have to use the term "appointed" before "Vice Mayor."

Ryan stressed that his suit targets election conduct by City Hall. He said Baker was notified of the suit but simply in his capacity as an interested party.

[update] Commenting on the action, Vice Mayor Dan Baker told LBReport.com, "I am confident that the ballot designation Ive chosen is factually correct and legally permissible. I think its unfortunate that we are distracting attention from the issues important to the people of Long Beach and focusing on this minutia."

In a sworn declaration filed with the court action, Mr. Ryan says that on January 11 he phoned the City Clerk's office to advise them of what he called "a discrepancy" in the City Hall issued "Candidate's Handbook," a manual issued to all Council and Mayoral candidates. Mr. Ryan noted that the City Hall prepared manual listed "Vice Mayor" as among acceptable ballot designations although the CA Elections Code limits designations to offices elected by a vote of the people [and LB's Vice Mayor is chosen by a vote of Councilmembers.]

Mr. Ryan says a City Clerk staffer indicated the designation Vice Mayor would be accepted.

Mr. Ryan says when he asked if he (Ryan) could list his appointed position as a LB Public Safety Advisory Commissioner on the ballot, he was told "no."

An initial court hearing at which a schedule for future proceedings will be determined, will take place Friday morning.

Developing.


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