Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Judge reinstates Antioch write-in candidate

MARTINEZ — A Contra Costa County Superior Court judge on Monday reinstated Allen Payton as a qualified write-in candidate for Antioch mayor, reversing an earlier decision by the county clerk.

Judge Judith Sanders ruled that County Clerk Steve Weir must requalify Payton, therefore ensuring that votes cast for him in today's election will be tallied and counted.

"It was a fair decision and a right decision," Payton said. "Not just on behalf of my campaign, but for voters in Antioch."

Payton filed a petition for a hearing Friday in response to Weir's decision Thursday to disqualify him and Antioch City Council write-in candidate Thomas Judge because they did not file a required form, "statement of write-in candidacy."

The form was not given to the two candidates by Antioch City Clerk Jolene Martin. The form was given, however, to a third write-in candidate, Monique Lazzarini, who is running for mayor.

The mistake was missed by Martin and Contra Costa election officials until Oct. 28; nonetheless, Weir said the two men's candidacy was invalid as it is ultimately the candidates' responsibility to ensure they have properly filed.

Weir said Monday that his office will be "happy to count the vote" but would not have wanted to reverse its earlier decision without a judge's order.

Payton's petition requested that the county and city of Antioch reimburse him for his legal fees and the cost of a full-sized advertisement Advertisementin the Times. Sanders said she would not rule on the reimbursement requests Monday, and advised Payton to file separately at a later date on that matter.

Write-in candidates are rare in Antioch. Deputy City Clerk Janet Chalk said this was the first time she had seen a write-in candidate in her 20-year tenure working for the city.

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