San Diego City Council candidate and attorney Bryan Pease has filed a petition challenging Councilwoman Lorie Zapf’s eligibility to run for a third term.
Pease ran against Zapf in the District 2 primary June 5 where he came in third place with 20 percent of the vote. He filed the petition Friday, one day after the San Diego County Registrar of Voters certified the election results.
“Under the election code, a candidate has five days after the formal canvas of the votes to file a challenge,” Pease said.
Zapf was first elected in 2010 in what was then City Council District 6. In 2011, her home in Bay Ho was redistricted into District 2, but she continued to serve out her term representing District 6.
Zapf ran for the seat in the vacant District 2 and won the race in 2014. The issue Pease said is the city charter that was in effect when her home was redistricted counts Zapf’s term serving in District 6 as serving a full term in her current district, making her ineligible to run for a third term.
Voters in 1992 voted to limit a city councilmember to only two terms.
Here’s where things get murky and Pease said he wants the courts to clear it up.
Zapf was serving for less than a year before her home in Bay Ho was redistricted into District 2. Under the city charter that was in effect at the time, she would continue to serve “the district in which they reside,” which in this case is District 2. In essence, Zapf has already represented District 2 for two terms.
But in 2016, voters approved Proposition A, which amended the city charter for when the redistricting boundaries would take effect. Under the amendment, councilmembers would “continue to represent the district they were elected to serve” until their term end.
Pease said the 2016 amendment was not retroactive and Zapf was bound by the charter language at the time of the redistricting.
When asked why he did not bring this issue up during the primary campaign, Pease said he hadn’t looked in depth into the language of the charter.
“It wasn’t on my radar,” he said.
Pease said he wants to settle this issue before the November election. If Zapf is found to be ineligible, then presumably the two highest vote-getters from the June primary will be on the ballot, including Pease.
The courts would have to answer the petition within 30 days, according to the petition.
“It’s better to do this now than later if Lorie was elected and found not to be able to serve,” he said.
If that were the case, Pease said the city would have to appoint a person to serve out the term.
Zapf did not respond to NBC 7’s call for comment.
Photo Credit: Campaign Photo
Source: NBC San Diego