Editorial – 88, 84, 83 – What’s Up With Candidate Nomination Deadline?

Editorial, posted 1/17/12 - I was contacted by a reader today who asked me why it is that nominations for our April 10, 2012  election were closed today for races in which an incumbent was running and tomorrow for races in which an incumbent is not running, when the code governing the election calls for five days difference.  As I started looking into it, I discovered that there were others in town who shared the same concern as the reader that contacted me. The reader pointed out that the Government Code section on elections, which governs our election, states that nominations are due by the 88th day prior to the election, which was last Friday, if incumbents filed papers, and if an incumbent didn’t run, then residents had another five days to file nomination papers for a seat in which the incumbent was not running.  This would seem to indicate that incumbents needed to file their nomination papers by last Friday, not today, as announced by City Clerk Nancy Shollenberger on Dec. 17, 2011. 

Here is the wording to this section of the Code: 

10220.  Candidates may be nominated for any of the elective offices
of the city in the following manner:
   Not earlier than the 113th day nor later than the 88th day before
a municipal election during normal office hours, as posted, the
voters may nominate candidates for election by signing a nomination
paper. Each candidate shall be proposed by not less than 20 nor more
than 30 voters in a city of 1,000 registered voters or more, and not
less than five nor more than 10 voters in a city of less than 1,000
registered voters, but only one candidate may be named in any one
nomination paper. No voter may sign more than one nomination paper
for the same office, and in the event the voter does so, that voter’s
signature shall count only on the first nomination paper filed which
contains the voter’s signature. Nomination papers subsequently filed
and containing that voter’s signature shall be considered as though
that signature does not appear thereon. Each seat on the governing
body is a separate office. Any person registered to vote at the
election, and qualified to vote for the elective office of the city
for which the nomination is made, may circulate a nomination paper.
Only one person may circulate each nomination paper. Where there are
full terms and short terms to be filled, the term shall be specified
in the nomination paper.

10224.  All nomination papers shall be filed with the city elections
official during regular business hours as posted, not later than the
88th day before the election. Until that time, but not after, a
candidate may withdraw his or her nomination paper after it is filed
with the elections official as provided in this section.

10225.  (a) Notwithstanding Sections 10220 and 10224, if nomination
papers for an incumbent officer of the city are not filed by or on
the 88th day before the election, during normal business hours, as
posted, the voters shall have until the 83rd day before the election
during normal business hours, as posted, to nominate candidates other
than the person who was the incumbent on the 88th day, for that
incumbent’s elective office.
   (b) This section is not applicable where there is no incumbent
eligible to be elected. If this section is applicable,
notwithstanding Section 10224, a candidate may withdraw his or her
nomination paper until the 83rd day before the election during normal
business hours, as posted.

Note that all three of the above sections reference either “normal business hours” or “regular business hours.”  City Clerk (and election official) Nancy Shollenberger usually works by appointment only, and does not keep regular hours at City Hall (an issue in the 2008 election campaign), so there may be some gray area here, particularly if it can be shown that she has kept appointments outside of City Hall’s posted hours.  But since “by appointment” hours are kind of nebulous, using City Hall’s posted hours seems like the logical course of action. Since City Hall was closed on Friday, over the weekend, and on Monday for the holiday, normal business hours ended on Thursday, prior to the 88th day, and began again this morning.  So it seems that “normal business hours” in this situation ended at 5pm today. 

While the spirit of the law seems to be to give non-incumbents five full days to pull papers and file them after they’ve determined an incumbent is not running again, in this case the letter of the law apparently, due to unusual circumstances, prevented that from happening.  Therefore, the City Clerk nominations are now closed, since incumbent Nancy Shollenberger is running, the City Treasurer race closes tomorrow (the 83rd day before the election) at 5pm because incumbent George Enyedi is not running again, and the City Council regular election for incumbent John Buchanan’s seat closes tomorrow, since he is not running.  The Special Election seat for the remaining two years of Joe Mosca’s term closes tomorrow as well, since obviously incumbent Joe Mosca is not running.

I’m not an attorney, and there may be folks more qualified than I out there who interpret this differently.  It’s possible that someone may still choose to challenge the City Clerk’s interpretation of the Code.  But the wording about regular or normal business hours would seem to me to indicate that the deadline is today, the 17th, if we are using City Hall’s hours.  We’ll see if anybody chooses to challenge.  And maybe we should, again, look at requiring regular posted hours for the City Clerk to conduct business at City Hall.

Comments (6)

 

  1. Kim Goddard says:

    Lady Wistar,

    I saw your cyberbully report, it says there are three levels of membership, bronze, silver and gold the gold membership is about 999.00. You must pay to post on that site, it is not a free to help people site, but more like a soft porn off shore entity that advertises malware antivirus sites while it attaches malware to the viewer.
    How much did you have to pay? Mr. Coburn you should watch out, the Wistar could turn on you next

  2. Bill Coburn says:

    Thanks, Lady W., and thanks for letting me know about that. After seeing your comment, I went to the site, which I rarely do any more. What I find interesting is that I wrote an editorial responding to someone who said our City Clerk made a mistake, pointed out that in my opinion she didn’t, and then get lambasted for bashing her. And as for the implication I said our incumbent filed too late, I believe what I said was that she didn’t. But everybody’s entitled to their own opinion.

  3. Lady Wistar says:

    P.S. Sorry you were cyberbullied today :(

  4. Bill Coburn says:

    Sounds like a good idea. But who decides what the three issues are? Maybe an online poll soliciting ideas, or asking people to choose their top three from ten, or something? Or, maybe we ask the candidates to tell us what they consider to be their top three, and weight their answers by their placement, with the three answers getting the most points chosen to be in the debate?

    • Lady Wistar says:

      Amazing idea! Could we stick to minuets in G major as the G minor ones sound so sad :(

      Seriously, I think this is a great idea and would be happy to sponsor.

      Online polls are inaccurate because, sadly, we have some cheaters in our town. Here are instructions on how to cheat at online polls:

      http://sierramadretattler.blogspot.com/2011/12/cant-we-just-fire-edison.html

      Scroll down to the times between 7:58am and 8:58am for very clear directions on how to cheat. I think the saying “cheaters never prosper” was worded before Al Gore so graciously invented the internets.

      I have a screenshot of the instructions if that would help. People can request them through my Facebook page :)

      Cheers!

  5. Diane Shear says:

    I would like to see an unbiased debate by the candidates.
    Give all the candidates three critical issues facing Sierra Madre at the present time, give them the questions in advance, allowing each one to give their solutions, with plenty of time to give it their best thinking?
    5 minuet replies. Give the voters a chance to hear their positions on the real issues here in Sierra Madre.
    We attended a forum at Kiwanis in 2008, it was moderated by Clem Bartolai. Don’t know if Clem would moderate the above forum idea, and of course it would have to be something held in the early evening when all working people could attend. Possibly Sierra Madre School auditorium or the Rec Center?
    Of course have the other forums at City Hall and Kiwanis as always.
    Anyone think this would work?