Judge Orders Hodge Back on the Ballot

City Ordered to Explain Why Nomination Petition Was Invalidated

By Paul Cobb

Greghodgemug.jpgIn a dramatic legal move, Greg Hodge, candidate for City Council in District 3 (West Oakland, Adams Point, Downtown, Jack London Square) received a favorable ruling from Superior Court Judge Frank Roesch in his bid to be listed on the June 3rd primary ballot. After about 2 weeks of unusual maneuvers by the City Clerk’s office, the judge rendered an order which requires the City Attorney’s office to show cause why Hodge, a current Oakland Board of Education member, should not be allowed to pursue his candidacy against incumbent Nancy Nadel and political newcomer Sean Sullivan in the upcoming elections.

After sending a certified letter informing the Hodge for Oakland campaign that it had met the requirement of collecting at least 50 signatures from registered voters who live in his district, the City Clerk reversed its decision. In the papers filed in court on Tuesday, the City Clerk identified attorney Stuart Flashman and activist James Vann, two of Nadel’s supporters, as the parties who requested that the matter be reviewed and reopened. It is unclear whether Councilwoman Nadel played a direct role in overturning the Clerk’s decision. Hodge was never informed of the challenge by Nadel’s supporters. The Clerk’s office maintains that Hodge is one signature shy of qualifying for the election.
“I’m outraged by a process that does not value every voter” says Hodge in response to the sudden unfair scrutiny from the City Clerk’s office of his previously approved 50 signatures required to place him on the District 3 Voter’s Ballot. “I’m having a hard time understanding what’s going on. The City Clerk’s office validated my signatures but now they are telling me that my name will not appear on the June 3rd ballot”.  Hodge added further, “Once the court case is resolved in my favor, I plan to call for a thorough investigation of what happened here. Did the incumbent’s influence in City Hall affairs play a role in this fiasco? The voters in Oakland deserve a fair and transparent process and real answers to these disturbing questions.”
Hodge’s attorney, Sean Welch, maintains among other things, that the Clerk’s office has no legal authority to reopen the approval process once it renders a decision. Most legal observers agree. The proper remedy should have been for Flashman and Vann to file suit in Superior Court to make the challenge.
The parties will have a final opportunity to make their arguments in court on Friday, March 28th at 9am in Department 31 of the Alameda County Superior Court.