San Diego, CA. – As is customary, the San Diego City Council ok’d initiatives and ballot language that will appear on the November ballot.
The ballot question language is considered an important piece as voters, who may not be aware of what a particular initiative proposes to do, rely on the language to help guide their vote.
Two initiatives which have been the subject of a lot of attention, SDSU West and SoccerCity, received a good amount of time from the City Council, City Attorney and City Clerk.
The initiatives are also currently the subject of a lawsuit brought by the City Attorney’s office. City Attorney Mara Elliott is sending the lawsuits to the 4th District Court of Appeal after they were defeated in Superior Court.
That was the subject of an important question at the City Council hearing. Can the City Attorney’s Office craft a nonprejudicial Title and Summary for voters considering all that is happening?
Elliott responded that her office “can still do the impartial ballot analysis despite suing to have both initiatives removed from the ballot.”
Councilmember Sherman recommended the Ethics Commission provide language to avoid possible legal liabilities, but Elliott stated the law is clear on her offices ability to provide the ballot language.
Councilman Chris Cate was absent from the meeting. Cate was fined for sharing a confidential memo regarding the city’s position on SoccerCity.
The Title and Summary ballot debate for SDSU West was far more contentious than SoccerCity.
Representatives for Friends of SDSU asked the City Council to change the ballot language that had been prepared by the City Attorney’s office. Jack McGrory, one of the leaders of the SDSU West effort told the council, “there’s ample precedent for the ballot language to change, but clearly the City Attorney is on the other side of the issue from us, as she’s sued us in Superior Court. How she can provide an unbiased language isn’t clear.”
The Friends of SDSU wanted the ballot question to include the phrase “Fair Market Value.” The City Attorney countered that “the initiative does not say the property must be sold at Fair Market Value and as such would make the ballot question misleading.”
Councilmember Barbara Bry asked that the ballot question put before voters be changed to include the phrase “Fair Market Value.” Councilmember Lorie Zapf seconded the motion but the council voted it down 5-3. As such, the ballot question and language is likely to remain as drafted by the City Attorney.
The vote to put SDSU West on the ballot was unanimous.
No representative spoke on behalf of SoccerCity.
The language crafted by the City Attorney was agreed to not being factually inaccurate and wouldn’t mislead voters.
Like SDSU West, the City Council unanimously voted to put SoccerCity on the ballot.