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Court of Appeals Denies Ryan's Writ re Baker Ballot Designation

(February 16, 2002) -- The Court of Appeal has denied a petition for an appellate writ requested on Feb. 14 by LB Mayoral candidate Norm Ryan, seeking to overturn a Superior Court decision that upheld LB City Hall's acceptance of an amended ballot designation for Vice Mayor Dan Baker.

On February 15, the LB City Attorney's office filed paperwork with the Court of Appeal, citing an imminent deadline for printing ballot materials, and attaching a detailed declaration from a City Clerk staffer warning that a delay could substantially interfere with the city's upcoming April election. It urged the Court of Appeal not to grant the appellate writ.

Mr Ryan sought relief in the Court of Appeal to overturn a Feb. 14 Superior Court ruling that OK'd City Hall's acceptance of Dan Baker's amended ballot description as "Long Beach Councilmember/Vice-Mayor."

The City Attorney's office cited CA Elections Code 13314 (a)(2)(B) which provides that a writ can only be issued if the "issuance of the writ will not substantially interfere with the conduct of the election" and attached a sworn declaration by City Clerk staffer Rebecca Burleson, who is in charge of the city's upcoming April election, specifying reasons why a delay beyond 5:00 p.m. today would substantially interfere with the election.

In the public interest, posted the salient City Attorney paperwork filed with the Court of Appeal including Ms. Burleson's declaration. These can be viewed in pdf form by clicking on City Attorney materials filed with Court of Appeal opposing Ryan appellate writ.

The Superior Court ruled Baker's ballot description, accepted by the City Clerk's office, does not violate CA Elections Code 13107 which 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."...

Among other things, Mr. Ryan challenged the contention that being Vice Mayor was Mr. Baker's "current principal profession, vocation, or occupation."

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