A group of Santa Ana residents trying to pressure the City Council to call a special election in June suffered a major setback on Thursday when they missed a deadline for filing papers with City Hall.
The group called SAMSON (Santa Ana Merged Society of Neighbors) filed a notice of intent to circulate petitions on Jan. 10 and published a legal notice the next day, according to City Clerk Janice Guy. Election laws call for an affidavit, proof of the legal notice, to be submitted to the city within 10 days of its publication.
SAMSON member Jim Lowman tried to file that affidavit on Thursday, two days after the deadline. Guy said she told Lowman she could not accept the affidavit.
A city official said the error means the group must publish another legal notice and submit another affidavit. The error is crucial, said SAMSON member Pete Major, because the group has a very tight timetable.
However, Major said late Thursday that SAMSON members would be in court today in an attempt to force the city to accept the affidavit because Lowman says he tried to submit it to Guy on Tuesday and was refused. Guy denied that, saying that she had not seen Lowman or any other member of the group between the time the notice was filed Jan. 10 and the time Lowman showed up Thursday.
The SAMSON ballot measure would require that the mayor be elected directly by the voters, that the office be separate from the council and that council members be elected by wards.
Guy said SAMSON members must wait 21 days after the legal notice is published to begin gathering signatures.
If Lowman had made the deadline on Tuesday, his group could have begun collecting signatures Feb. 1. Now, if SAMSON members publish a legal ad on Monday, they may begin collecting signatures Feb. 17.
If SAMSON succeeds in gathering signatures of 6,288 registered voters, the city clerk's office must verify them, which takes about two weeks, Guy said. All of this, she said, would have to be done by March 7, the city's deadline for notifying the county of its intent to call a special election.