A controversy is brewing in our local political scene. Shades of Bush vs. Gore, because it involves an ambiguity in election law. Another similarity: viewpoints are split mainly along ideological lines – as if people choose the legal justification which will get their candidate elected.
The background: Last week’s election for city assembly ended with two top vote-getters in a four-way race heading into a runoff next month.
But not so fast! The first-place candidate, Brian W., might not be eligible to run, since he had not lived in the district for the required 12 months before the election. (Nobody brought this up as a legal question until after the votes were counted – though it was an issue during the campaign, more in a “He’s not one of us” sense.)
Brian W. didn’t just move into the district; he’s lived in the same house since 1980. But the district boundary was redrawn 6 months ago, splitting his neighborhood from one area and attaching it to another.
Our (short-sighted) election code never anticipated this contingency, and there are no precedents in state law. The decision could go either way: Either Brian W. has lived in the neighborhood for 22 years and ran for office in the district he now resides in; or, he has not satisfied the strict one-year residency requirement.
I won’t say any more about the ideological leanings of Brian W. and his main opponent, Paul B. (both are non-incumbents running for an open seat, BTW). I’d like to see how opinions divide when no party has a stake in the outcome.