Issue:  Vol. 47 / No. 50 / 14 December 2017
 

Appeals court panel kicks SF supe off Nov ballot

In the latest round of legal wrangling between City Attorney Dennis Herrera and District 2 Supervisor Michela Alioto-Pier (pictured below) over whether she can seek re-election to the Board of Supervisors this November, Herrera scored a win today when an appellate panel ruled he was correct in barring her from being on the ballot.

A three-judge panel of the California Court of Appeal this afternoon (Tuesday, August 24) unanimously reversed a trial court ruling from last month that nullified Herrera’s reading of San Francisco’s voter-approved term limits law. The trial judge’s decision had led to an eleventh hour bid by Alioto-Pier to seek another term and San Francisco elections officials to include her name among candidates qualified to run on the fall ballot.

But the appellate judges – Associate Justice James A. Richman, who authored the ruling, Presiding Justice J. Anthony Kline and Associate Justice James R. Lambden – decided that Herrera was correct in his use of a “rounding-up rule,” which provides that if an appointed incumbent serves more than two years of a term, it counts as a full four-year term for purposes of term limits.

Alioto-Pier served out the remainder of Gavin Newsom’s term after he became mayor in 2004 and was then re-elected for another term. In 2008 Herrera issued a ruling that she had served two full-terms and was therefore termed out of office this year.

But Alioto-Pier sued to force Elections Department officials to place her name on the ballot.  A San Francisco Superior Court judge granted the supervisor’s petition on July 22, holding that voters had implicitly rendered the 20-year-old term limits rule “ineffective” with subsequent Charter amendments.

Yet the appellate judges concluded differently, writing in their ruling that “nothing in the ensuing years changed the two-term limit.  Nothing changed the rounding up provision.  And nothing changed the voter imposed mandate that no appointed supervisor could serve more than 10 consecutive years. Alioto-Pier has already served two consecutive terms. She may not seek a third.”

Responding to today’s decision, Herrera issued a statement saying he was gratified by the latest legal opinion.

“This case has always been about the principle of upholding voters’ will, and I regret that some political pundits focused instead on personalities. I’ve consistently defended Sup. Alioto-Pier’s right to pursue this dispute in the courts, and I wish her and her family every success in their future endeavors,” stated Herrera. “I know I join the vast majority of San Franciscans in expressing gratitude for her record of public service to the City we share.”

The ruling is also a major win for Janet Reilly, who is seen as having a lock on the seat without Alioto-Pier in the race. Reilly this month won the endorsement of the local Democratic Party and has backed Herrera in the legal fight.

She issued a statement today saying the appellate ruling “lifts a cloud of uncertainty” over the race that will allow her to focus again on her campaign for the board.

“Frankly, it has been difficult for the voters to clearly evaluate the candidates without knowing whether or not Supervisor Alioto-Pier was on the ballot. Let me be among the first to thank Michela for her seven years of public service,” stated Reilly. “Now that we have clarity, I am looking forward to continuing my door-to-door campaign to meet the voters of District 2.”

Alioto-Pier could seek to have the full Court of Appeal rehear the case or she could bring an appeal to the state Supreme Court.

The case is Arntz v. Superior Court, California Court of Appeal, First Appellate District, Division Two, Case No. A129173.  A complete copy of the appellate court ruling is available on the City Attorney’s Web site.

— Matthew S. Bajko, August 24, 2010 @ 4:35 pm PST
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