Updated March 14, 2014: According to local attorney Tom Wieder, who is representing Dascola in the matter, court cases dating from the early 1970s struck down a section of the city charter cited by the city clerk in determining Dascola was ineligible. More details are appended at the end of this news brief. A longer treatment can be found here: “Dascola to Assert Right to Run in Ward 3“
Although he previously announced his intention to compete in the Ward 3 Democratic primary election to be held on Aug. 5, 2014, Bob Dascola is not eligible to compete in this year’s race, according to the Ann Arbor city clerk’s office. Dascola is owner of Dascola Barbers on State Street.
Dascola took out petitions on March 12, but was subsequently informed by the clerk’s office that he was not eligible to represent Ward 3. According to city clerk Jacqueline Beaudry, Dascola did not meet the city charter requirement that a candidate for city council be a registered voter of the city and a resident of the ward to be represented for at least a year preceding election. From the city charter:
Except as otherwise provided in this charter, a person is eligible to hold a City office if the person has been a registered elector of the City, or of territory annexed to the City or both, and, in the case of a Council Member, a resident of the ward from which elected, for at least one year immediately preceding election or appointment.
The only eligible candidate so far to take out petitions to run in the Ward 3 Democratic primary is Julie Grand, who also competed in the August 2013 primary. Incumbent Stephen Kunselman received more votes than Grand in that race. Kunselman is not up for re-election in 2014, but is running for mayor, along with three other councilmembers: Sabra Briere (Ward 1), Sally Petersen (Ward 2) and Christopher Taylor (Ward 3). Because he cannot simultaneously run for mayor and run to retain his Ward 3 seat on the council, Taylor’s decision to run for mayor leaves that seat open.
Petitions for the partisan primary in August 2014 must be turned in by April 22
. For councilmembers, 100 signatures are required from their ward. For mayor, the requirement is for 50 signatures from each of the city’s five wards, for a total of 250 signatures.
Updated: According to local attorney Tom Wieder, who is representing Dascola in the matter, court cases dating from the early 1970s struck down the section of the city charter cited by the city clerk in determining Dascola was ineligible.
The city clerk’s office issued petitions to Dascola on March 12. But subsequently, Dascola was notified that he did not meet the charter’s residency requirement. However, the actual criterion on which his ineligibility appears to have been determined was not the one-year residency requirement, but rather the charter’s one-year voter registration requirement. Reached by phone late Friday, Dascola told The Chronicle he registered to vote in the city on Jan. 15, 2014.
The ruling for one case cited by Wieder in a phone interview with The Chronicle was handed down on Dec. 30,
1972 1971 from U.S. District Court judge Lawrence Gubow, according to Ann Arbor News coverage at the time. It earned the headline, “Year-In-Ward Rule For Council Voided.” However, the coverage from the News indicates that only the residency requirement was ruled unconstitutional – not the voter registration requirement:
Judge Gubow ruled only on the one-year residency requirement, and did not rule unconstitutional the charter language requiring that a person be a registered voter for at least a year before assuming elective office. [City attorney Jerold] Lax said persons seeking elective office will have to have the one year of voter registration, stating that he asked Judge Gubow specifically if his ruling went beyond the residency requirement. The answer was “no.”
Several court rulings on eligibility to vote and hold office were handed down nationwide in that general timeframe – after the 1971 enactment of the 26th amendment to the U.S. constitution, which lowered the voting age from 21 to 18.
Dascola told The Chronicle that he did not plan to start collecting signatures until the issue had been clarified.