The Jaz McKay Show
Letter From Tal Cloud About Leticia Perez's Residence
March 22nd 2013
Kern County Registrar of Voters
1115 Truxtun Avenue, 1st Floor
Bakersfield, CA 93301
Please consider this letter a formal request that the County of Kern reconsider its decision to allow Leticia Perez to act as a candidate in the May 21, 2013 special election to fill the current vacancy in the 16th State Senate District.
State law is clear: "A person is ineligible to be a member of the Legislature unless the person is an elector and has been a resident of the legislative district for one year ... immediately preceding the election."Cal.Const. Art. 4, Sec. 2(c). Ms. Perez resides at 1831 Alta Vista Drive, Bakersfield, California. Ms. Perez' residence is outside the boundaries of the 16th State Senate District as legally set by the State Legislature under authority of the State Constitution, Section 1, Art., XXI.
It is my understanding from recent press reports that the County correctly agrees that Ms. Perez is not a legal resident of the 16th State Senate District. However, I also understand the County is taking the position that due to a clerical error committed by Kern County's election staff back in 2001-02 concerning the legal boundaries set by the State Legislature, you are permitting Ms. Perez to act as a candidate for the 16th District.
The position of the County on this matter is without legal or factual support.
First, the law is clear: Under the then applicable Constitutional provisions, the State Legislature, not the County of Kern, was authorized to and did set the boundaries of the 16th District. The Legislature, not the County of Kern, reset the boundaries of the 16th District to exclude that area now known as "Precinct 595" the area in which Ms. Perez currently resides. We understand from the press reports that your election staff was aware of this redistricting and created Precinct 595 to formally effect this change. However, again according to press reports, your records failed to accurately reflect the fact that Precinct 595 was in fact part of District 16.
It is unclear exactly what happened after this alleged error. Specifically, it is unclear whether in fact voters in Precinct 595 voted in the District 16 or District 18 elections. I understand the County has taken the position that voters in Precinct 595 have voted in District 16 elections, most recently in the 2010 general election. If this is your assertion, please provide the undersigned with documentary proof that this was the case through the 2010 election.
Even if, as a result of the County's error, those in Precinct 595 have voted in District 16 elections, however, it does not mean that such votes were properly and lawfully cast and, most critically, it does not excuse any candidate from the unequivocal residency requirements of Art. 4, Sect. 2(c). Again, the law is clear: any act taken by a County is void if contradicts or duplicates state law. Any doubt as to whether an issue is a matter of local or statewide authority is to be resolved in favor of the state. Here, there is no such doubt; it is the State Legislature, not local entities, which had the authority to set the boundaries of the 16th State Senate District. Here, the County has plainly exceeded its authority by (1) failing to accurately reflect in your records the District 16 boundaries set legally by the State Legislature and (2) allowing Ms. Perez to run for the 16th State Senate District seat without being a resident of that District. These ultra vires acts cannot stand.
I understand that the County is taking the position that since voters in Precinct 595 voted in the 2010 general election for the 16th District, they should be allowed to vote again in the 2013 election for the same senate seat. With all due respect, even assuming it is true that they did participate in the 2010 election, it does not follow legally or factually that electors in Precinct 595 should again be allowed to vote in a district in which they do not reside. More critically, there is no logic whatsoever in arguing that since an improper vote may have occurred in 2010, the unequivocal constitutional requirement of residency should be waived for Ms. Perez or any other candidate.
Moreover, the County's error was made public prior to the 2010 general election. Former Senator Rubio also resided, at least initially in Precinct 595. He ran in the primary before the County's error was made public. Once the error was disclosed, however, Mr. Rubio moved his residency within the legal boundaries of District 16. Ms. Perez has made no comparable effort to try and comply with the law. Even if it were somehow relevant to this discussion, which it is not, Ms. Perez has been aware of the County's error for almost three years now. She can hardly argue lack of knowledge or surprise that to run for the 16th District she must, as required by the Constitution, live within its legally defined boundaries.
Finally, I understand that after Mr. Rubio moved, Kern County elections and the California Secretary of State's Office reached some form of agreement that Precinct 595 would stay in the 16th District. If this agreement was reduced to writing, please provide the undersigned with a copy of it. If it is not in writing, please provide the undersigned with a summary of the terms of the agreement. As to the validity of any such agreement, again, it is important to stress that it is the State Legislature, not Kern County or any state office, including the Secretary of State, who was empowered to set the legal boundaries of the 16th District. The Secretary of State, as a member of the executive branch, has no such power and any effort to do so would violate the State Constitution's specific provisions addressing this subject as well as the separation of powers enshrined in the Constitution.
Put simply, the State Legislature set the boundaries for District 16, not the County of Kern. The State Constitution requires that a candidate for the District 16 Senate seat must reside within District 16. Ms Perez does not reside within District 16. Ms. Perez is precluded from being a candidate for this position.
This is obviously a matter of critical importance and time is short as the special election is
quickly approaching. We therefore ask that you provide a response to this letter no later than March 28th, 2013. Further, please provide the information and documents requested in this letter to the undersigned no later than Monday March 25,2013.
Thank you for your attention to this matter. If you have any questions or comments please feel
free to contact me in writing at the below email address.
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