Candidate Sues To Get On Mayoral Ballot

Candidate Sues To Get On Mayoral Ballot

Lawsuit Claims Signatures Were Wrongfully Invalidated

Old Town resident Stella Padilla has filed a lawsuit against the City Clerk’s office demanding that she be put on the ballot as a mayoral candidate.

The suit alleged that City Clerk Natalie Howard’s office improperly invalidated scores of nominating petition signatures that Padilla had submitted in an effort to get on the Oct. 3 ballot.

Candidates needed 3,000 valid signatures from registered city voters to become a candidate. But Padilla’s campaign came up 171 signatures short.

In the lawsuit, which she filed herself, Padilla argued that the Clerk’s process for vetting petition signatures was “unsophisticated and flawed.” She also argued that the city has no standard operating procedures to determine whether signatures are valid or not.

“It is at best a hit and miss and arbitrary process left to the competency and potential individual discretion/bias of the person reviewing each page [of signatures] at the City Clerk’s office,” the lawsuit said.

The lawsuit said that Padilla’s campaign had rechecked nearly 100 signatures that the Clerk’s office had invalidated and had found them to be valid.

Padilla was not immediately available for comment.

A hearing is scheduled on Padilla’s lawsuit at 9:30 a.m. Friday before state District Court Judge Victor Lopez.

Originally, 16 people said they were running for mayor. Of those, nine collected the required 3,000 valid signatures.

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  • Anonymous
    May 24, 2017, 1:15 pm

    Asking for procedures, on a given subject, at virtually all city departments is an exercise in futility. The Clerks will give you a ‘deer in the headlights’ look and that’s about it. Furthermore, even if there are procedures you’ll find in most cases they are not being followed. Prime examples are the City’s building code inspectors and the Albuquerque Police Department.

    For the City Clerk to pull shananigans like this flies in the face of the City Charter and should be grounds for her , and her entire staff’s, termination.

    REPLY
  • Anonymous
    May 25, 2017, 9:45 am

    Notifications on Social Media are portraying a dim picture for the City Clerk, City Attorney, and the District Court…

    In a press release obtained by Police Complaints https://www.facebook.com/policecomplaints/, Ms. Padilla states that the Bernalillo County Clerk spent six days, using the same POWER-PROFILE software, validating the 4,000 signatures the Mayoral Candidate turned in to the City Clerk.

    The results of the County Clerk’s (same) process resulted in more than enough validated signatures (3,000) to place her on the ballot, but, without explanation, the City Clerk, Natalie Howard, rejected those results.
    Ms. Padilla’s press release goes on to say:

    Our position is the City Clerk, Natalie Howard, has operated with a DOCTRINE OF UNCLEAN HANDS, and set her own rules and regulations in the Nominating process. [The] case [# D-202-CV-201703556] was to be heard on May 26, 2017, at District Court with Honorable [Judge] Victor Lopez until [the] City Attorney decided to recuse Judge Lopez. Today [5-24-17] just before noon, Honorable [Judge] Alan Malott was then assigned, but immediately recused himself; no other information is available at this time.

    Ms. Padilla has set up a gofundme account https://www.gofundme.com/stellapadilla4mayor requesting donations so she my obtain robust Attorney representation.

    REPLY
  • Ward Shrake
    May 25, 2017, 9:59 am

    This sort of thing happens all of the time, because state law puts all of the power for looking into "fixed" or crooked or illegal election-related activities, into the very corrupt hands of an office that should have been de-funded ages ago: that of the Secretary of State. Despite many proven-bad elections over the years, the AG’s office never does anything but look the other way. Even the Feds look the other way; when citizens get tired of state officials screwing the public. What’s it going to take, to clean up this horribly corrupt state?!?

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  • Ward Shrake
    May 25, 2017, 10:25 am

    Raton Range newspaper article

    Aug 3, 2010 (hardcopy edition)

    Headline: "Judge: Return signatures to recall petition; Apache to join Johnson, Henry on Sept. 14 ballot"

    By Todd Wildermuth, Editor

    (quoted article begins:)

    And then there were three.

    A trio of Raton city commissioners — a majority of the five-member commission — will face a recall election in September as Commissioner Joe Apache will be added to the ballot by virtue of a Monday morning District Court ruling that 16 signatures be reinstated to the petition seeking the recall election of Apache. The restored signatures will push the total number of signatures to 215, six more than the minimum of 209 necessary to force the recall election.

    A Sept. 14 recall election had already been set by the city following the submission two months ago of adequate recall petitions against Mayor Jesse James Johnson and Mayor Pro Tem Chuck Henry. The city’s election resolution includes language allowing it to add Apache to the Sept. 14 ballot following the court ruling that was filed in Raton District Court at 9:28 a.m. Monday.

    The ruling by District Judge John Paternoster came after a Friday afternoon hearing at which city attorney Ray Floersheim argued against the reinstatement of the signatures that Deputy City Clerk Geneva Trujillo had purged from the petition because the addresses listed on the petition by the signatories did not match the addresses on the signatories’ voter registrations. Floersheim said that although most had later updated their addresses on their voter registrations, the changes came too late — after each had signed the petition and after the petition was submitted to the city clerk’s office May 31.

    Judge Paternoster, however, found that to invalidate those signatures simply because of mismatching addresses was "unreasonable and insufficient and contrary to law." He wrote that "in the absence of any proof that the petitioners were not the same identical persons whose registrations were compared" to their signatures on the petition, the purging of their signatures is "an unreasonable infringement of a citizen’s right under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution to petition the government for the redress of grievances."

    Floersheim on Friday, as well as in a written answer filed earlier in court to the action originally filed July 7 by the purged signatories, said the city’s position was that the people who signed the Apache petition using an address that did not match their voter-registration address at the time were not "qualified electors" because they had failed — prior to signing the petition — to update their voter-registration addresses with the county clerk.

    Paternoster found that while only qualified electors were eligible to sign the recall petition, the address discrepancies did not disqualify the petition signatories from being qualified electors. The judge found that the 16 petition signatories in question were qualified electors in the City of Raton at the time they signed the petition. During Friday’s hearing, the judge called the registered voters’ failure to timely update their addresses an "innocent" mistake that had "cloud(ed) the water" of the petition process.

    The judge wrote that the address discrepancies "cannot constitutionally disqualify an otherwise qualified elector from participating in the petition process."

    Floersheim said Trujllo had used "common sense" to determine that the signatures of people with mismatched addresses should be purged. "There’s no legislative guidance," he said, referring to the laws governing the recall petition process and defining qualified electors.

    Floersheim said Trujillo had followed state law regarding recall petitions that instructs that a signature be purged if the signature "cannot be matched to the name, address and signature as shown on the voter registration lists and the original affidavit of registration…"

    "There never was any animosity toward anyone on the city’s part," Floersheim said, adding that the problem was caused by the vagueness of the legal guidelines written by state lawmakers rather than anything done by the petitioners, Trujillo or the city itself.

    Still, Paternoster, noted Friday, "As a citizen of Raton, I’m troubled by the mood this case has taken on." In his Monday order, the judge tried to clear the air by writing, "There is no evident bad faith on the part of any party…in this cause."

    Trujillo last month purged 102 signatures from the Apache petition, leaving it 20 signatures short of the 209 qualified signatures need to trigger a recall election. Thirty-four of the purged signatories requested their signatures be reinstated. Ten were reinstated after those people provided new information to Trujillo.

    The remaining requests for reinstatement were denied by Trujillo — who said those people had updated their voter-registration addresses too late — so 15 of those people together filed a notice of petition in Raton District Court seeking an order of reinstatement. A 16th person was added to the court case soon after.

    Paternoster issued an initial order that, based on the face value of the evidence, the signatures should be restored, but gave Trujillo the option to have her case presented in court last Friday.

    (end of quoted article)

    REPLY
  • Ward Shrake
    May 25, 2017, 10:30 am

    See also the city of Las Vegas, NM — in which one of the Governor’s friends was up for recall, as mayor … but despite complaints made to state officials, nothing was ever done to restore justice to disenfranchised voters.

    https://www.abqjournal.com/217042/recall-petition-lacks-enough-valid-signatures.html

    http://www.lasvegasoptic.com/content/activist-recall-fight-not-over

    REPLY

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