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Council cleared in lawsuit

August 22, 2002

A Superior Court judge ruled Wednesday that the Huntington Beach

City Council did not overstep its bounds when it put off a vote that

could divide the city into five council districts until March 2004.

The suit was filed by Huntington Beach resident Joseph Jeffrey

last week in an attempt to overturn the council's decision to have a

ballot measure that would divide the city into five city council

districts and eliminate two council positions placed on the March

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2004 ballot, rather than the upcoming November ballot.

'I'm very upset that the judge ruled as he did,'' Jeffrey said.

''I feel that 22,000 voters are not being given the opportunity to

vote for, or against, the initiative. We're working on an appeal.''

Jeffrey said Judge Dennis Sheldon Choate boiled the lawsuit down

to whether or not the city had the discretion to set the vote for

March 2004. The judge ruled that it did and said he didn't see

anything wrong with setting the vote for 2004, Jeffrey said.

Council members were delighted that the issue will wait until

March 2004 to go before voters.

"Obviously we're pleased," said Councilman Ralph Bauer. "Luckily a

judge saw the value of the prerogative of the council and agreed with

[us]."

Although the suit came as a surprise to Bauer, several of his

fellow council members said they anticipated the opposition.

"I was expecting someone to do it," said Mayor Debbie Cook, who

was the only council member to vote against the delay.

Council members as a whole said they felt that they, and the

public, needed more time to look at the issue.

Councilwoman Connie Boardman said she voted to put the measure off

because she felt that there were many unanswered questions. Despite

her vote, the suit did not come as a shock to her.

"The people pushing the initiative have spent $100,000 so I wasn't

surprised," she said.

Jeffrey, a supporter and signature gatherer of the districting

measure, contended that the council's decision to put the measure off

for a year-and-a-half was illegal. Supporters of the measure got

22,000 signatures, more than the required amount to have it placed on

the November ballot, and he argued that the council is preventing

city residents from voting on the measure in a timely manner.

-- Jose Paul Corona

Council candidates ready for November race

With four open seats, no incumbents, 18 candidates and a field of

contenders rife with both business advocates and environmental

activists, the race for the Huntington Beach City Council is on.

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