CARLSBAD — Although the City Council is on recess until Nov. 12, residents in District 1 are fighting for representation on the board.
After Barbara Hamilton’s resignation on Oct. 9, the council has been in flux and residents are demanding action. During its Oct. 22 meeting, the council voted to move forward with appointing a representative, while numerous residents were calling for a special election.
Those against an appointment have been gathering signatures for a petition to call for a special election, starting after the agenda item on Oct. 22.
Hope Nelson, a District 2 resident active with many city issues, said she turned in the required number of the signatures to the City Clerk’s office on Oct. 29. From there, the city will send the signatures to the San Diego County Registrar of Voters for verification.
The ROV has 30 days to verify the signatures, although Nelson said she is confident the ROV will do so before the Nov. 8 deadline to get the special election on March 3.
“It looks like we’re in good position and I think we’ve got it,” Nelson said of the 1,652 signatures required to force an election. “This is three years left on a term and people should get a vote. It’s that simple.”
During the last council meeting, residents demanded action from the council to either appoint or call a special election. Councilman Keith Blackburn summarized the issue by saying it was a difficult decision because those in attendance were split.
A special election on March 3 is estimated to cost between $7,500 and $19,000, while a special election on April 14 would run between $175,000 to $300,000.
Some residents also accused Councilwoman Cori Schumacher of manipulating the process, as her term expires in 2020. She was elected as an at-large candidate in 2016.
Some of those who do not support Schumacher called for the appointment of Tracy Carmichael, who lost to Hamilton by less than 300 votes. Others said the appointment process would give other active and qualified residents a chance to make their case.
Nelson, though, stressed her group activated the signature drive for one reason, to ensure the people of the district have a voice through their vote. She noted the council should’ve learned its lesson from the divisive Measure A in 2016 where residents gather signatures for a referendum and special election to defeat the measure.
“It’s highly unlikely our City Council will come to an agreement,” Nelson said. “We all know it’s a split group and they need a three-person majority, they’re going to run into a $300,000 election. First, they’re going to take our vote, then they will take our money. No way.”
Should the special election be called, one challenge will be fundraising and putting together a campaign in a condensed time frame. Nelson said possible candidates include Schumacher, Carmichael, Angel Simon and former Planning Commissioner Marty Montgomery, to name a few.
Carmichael said she plans to submit her application for the appointment, stating she believes the city should follow tradition as it has worked before. As for the special election, Carmichael said she is weighing her options.
One advantage, though, is she still has $20,735.77 in cash on hand, according to the last filing. She said she believes the cash can be used if she decides to run.
Schumacher has $20,527.83 in campaign funds available through her committee “Friends for Cori Schumacher for Mayor 2022,” according to the campaign finance forms on the city’s website.
“I believe I could use that if I were to run again for the same office,” Carmichael said of her cash. “I think that’s a reasonable amount of time to get a campaign up and running. Is it the ideal situation? Oh heck no.”
If a March election is called, the nomination period for candidates to file is from Nov. 12 through Dec. 6, according to Assistant City Clerk Sheila Cobian. As for the April election, filing would open Dec. 23 through Jan. 17.
Note: A previous version of this story reported the required number of signatures to be 1,654. Representatives from the City of Carlsbad informed The Coast News after the print deadline the San Diego County Registrar of Voters changed the requirement to 1,652.
Steve Puterski covers Carlsbad and Vista. For tips or story ideas, contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @StevePuterski.