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Baker Will Face Deposition In Ryan's Suit Over Ballot Designation

Baker slightly modifies his ballot designation

Court declines to grant Ryan temporary restraining order or allow deposition of City Clerk personnel; City Hall indicates it won't move ahead until February 15

(January 25, 2002) -- Vice Mayor and Mayoral candidate Dan Baker will have his sworn deposition taken by attorneys for Prop. J utility tax cut leader and Mayoral candidate Norm Ryan as part of Ryan's lawsuit alleging City Hall is improperly letting Baker list himself on the ballot as "Vice Mayor."

The development came as part of an L.A. Superior Court hearing today in Ryan's suit (filed yesterday as reported by citing a CA election statute (pertinent text below).

The statute limits ballot designations to a candidate's current principal profession, vocation, or occupation (Ryan says "vice-mayor" doesn't qualify), requires offices not elected by the people to be identified as "appointed" (LB's vice mayor is chosen by Councilmembers, not LB voters) and limits designations to three words (Baker has agreed to modify his ballot designation, hyphenating vice-mayor; if it's one word, it's OK; if it's two words, it's too many.)

Mr. Baker's deposition -- the legal equivalent of sworn court testimony given in a law office with cross examination by opposing counsel and transcribed by a court reporter -- will almost certainly address the issue of whether being LB's vice-mayor qualifies as Baker's principal profession, vocation or occupation.

The Court declined to grant Ryan's requests for a temporary restraining order and permission to depose City Clerk personnel. LB's City Attorneys office indicated City Hall would not proceed until mid February.

Meanwhile, a lawyer representing Mr. Baker (who has separate counsel because he's not the defendant, City Hall is; Baker is the "real party in interest" with interests possibly different from City Hall) indicated Baker is modifying his ballot designation from "Long Beach City Councilmember/vice mayor" to "Long Beach Councilmember/Vice-Mayor."

State law (below) permits three words in ballot designations. "Long Beach" is legally one word. "Councilmember" is a second. If "Vice-Mayor" is one word, it's OK, but if it's two words, something has to go. Whether it's one word or two will be decided by the Court.

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."...

Mr. Ryan scoffs at the notion that being the Council's chosen vice-mayor qualifies as Baker's principal profession, vocation or occupation.

He argues the statute precludes City Hall from letting Baker designate himself as "vice-mayor" since (under 13107(1)) he wasn't elected vice mayor by a vote of the people but by Councilmembers. And he further contends Baker can't use vice mayor without including "appointed" (under 13107 (4)).

Whether "vice-mayor" is one word or two will (under 13107 (3)) actually turn on usage in "standard reference dictionaries" and will ultimately be decided by the Court.

Commenting on Mr. Ryan's lawsuit yesterday, Vice Mayor Baker told, "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 before filing suit, he phoned the City Clerk's office to advise them of what he called "a discrepancy" in City Hall's "Candidate's Handbook," a manual issued to all Council and Mayoral candidates. Mr. Ryan objected to the City Hall prepared manual listing "Vice Mayor" as among acceptable ballot designations but says a City Clerk staffer told him 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."

Mr. Ryan is represented by attorneys Manuel Klausner and Patrick Manshardt. Mr. Baker is represented by attorney Lawrence Zakson. LB's City Attorney's office represents City Hall.

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