BY THEO DOUGLAS Californian staff writer firstname.lastname@example.org
Fiscal conservatism held firm against moral views Monday, when the city's Legislative and Litigation Committee discussed recommending an amendment to the city charter -- adding a 30-day residency requirement for City Council candidates -- but took no action due to its cost.
The city charter does not say specifically how long Bakersfield City Council candidates must have lived in the city, only that they live here at the time they take out and return nominating paperwork.
Residency became an issue this spring, during a special election to fill the Ward 1 council seat of Rudy Salas, who won election in November to the 32nd State Assembly District.
Candidates objected to the recent return of Willie Rivera, a longtime northwest Bakersfield resident and district coordinator for the 16th State Senate District, who moved back to Ward 1, in the southeast, two months before filing his nomination papers. Rivera won the June 4 election.
Tomeka Powell, one of six candidates in the race, asked the City Council on May 15 to consider amending the charter.
"If that's something that the council wants to do, the best we could do is increase it to 30 days. Any durational requirement for candidates for local office is a violation of the Equal Protection Act," City Attorney Ginny Gennaro told the committee, citing a 1975 California Supreme Court ruling.
Adding the amendment to a General Election ballot would cost from $150,000 to $200,000, a financial burden committee members said would be onerous.
"Morally, I'd like to see us change it, but we're not in that sort of position. Certainly, spending $150,000 to $200,000 doesn't make sense," said committee Chairman Terry Maxwell, who is Ward 2 councilman.
Surprisingly, Powell agreed.
"When you look at the cost, and it's only a 30-day extension, it's not really worth it," Powell said.
In other business, anti-abortion advocate Tim Palmquist, administrator of LifeSavers Ministries and an architect of the city's proposed Human Life ordinance, presented the committee with updated drafts of the ordinance and a less-restrictive resolution.
Maxwell said he expects the committee, which comprises three City Council members, will re-examine the Human Life issue at its Sept. 23 meeting.