March 8, 2007 - Faulder changes line on possible second lawsuit
Paper: Willits News, The (CA)
Title: Faulder changes line on possible second lawsuit
Date: March 8, 2007
Mendocino County Assistant District Attorney Keith Faulder has changed his mind about whether or not he will sue in the event a candidate for district attorney is elected by a plurality instead of a majority.
Faulder sued last October to force Mendocino County to hold a special election to elect a new district attorney in the wake of the death of former District Attorney Norman Vroman, who died September 21. Although his suit was opposed by Mendocino County, Faulder prevailed and in late December the county was ordered to hold a special election, scheduled for April 3.
During a Friday February 23, candidate's debate on radio station KZYX, Faulder said he would sue again if the winner in the special election was determined by a plurality, not a majority. A plurality occurs when a candidate wins by one vote or more; a majority requires a candidate to receive 50 percent of the vote, plus one vote.
"The position of county counsel before the court ordered a special election was that there has to be majority in order for any candidate to win," Faulder said. "They've taken a 180 on that and now say it has to be a plurality.
"As I did before, if the county is not following the law, I will make sure the rights of the voters are protected. The current state of opinion of the county counsel is that it's a plurality. I don't believe that's supported by the law, but we'll wait and see if one candidate receives more than 50 percent of the vote. It'll be a moot point if one candidate gets more than 50 percent."
Bert Schlosser, who along with Meredith Lintott and Faulder is running for the office of district attorney, agreed with Faulder and said he would support him in his suit.
"If Mr. Faulder chooses to file something as a result of the election results, I would certainly support that. I believe the taxpayers or the residents of the county are the appropriate people to do that filing, and I hope they would, if in fact they disagree with the holding of the counsel," Schlosser said.
Contacted on February 28, Faulder said that during the Friday radio debate he had not thought through his answer to the question. "I sued the county to make sure the voters had a choice. Right now, the voters have what they need. They have three candidates to choose from. So they have a real choice. So whatever happens, I will be fine with that. I am not going to disturb what the outcome is of what the voters choose. If I don't win, I will be content with what the voters decide."
Contacted late in the week by The Willits News, Schlosser clarified that when he said he would support Faulder, he didn't mean he would join him in his lawsuit. "For one thing I don't have enough money to sue," Schlosser said. "And for another, I have talked with Faulder's counsel and he told me the legal argument that would support a second lawsuit in the case of a special election would not be a strong one."
According to county Registrar of Voters Marsha Wharff, Mendocino County will be holding only one round of voting this spring to determine who will be the next district attorney and the winner of that election, whether he or she wins by a plurality or by a majority, will be the next district attorney. Wharff said the decision was made on the recommendation of Mendocino County Counsel Jeanine Nadel.
Nadel told The Willits News she had examined Section 8026 of the Elections Code thoroughly and concluded it gave her no guidance on how to proceed. She said that section law made no mention of holding a run-off election to determine the winner of the special election.
She added that while Section 8026 states a special election needs to be ordered within 14 days of the death of a candidate, it makes no mention of when a run-off election is to be held in connection with that election. This helped her conclude that Section 8026 did not envision that a run-off election was to be held.
Author: Mike A'Dair/TWN Staff Writer
(c) 2007 The Willits News. All rights reserved.