Two contenders in an open Democratic Assembly primary are accusing a third--the perceived favorite--of failing to meet residency requirements to qualify for the race.
Rosemary Woodlock of Woodland Hills, who is seeking the 43rd Assembly District seat being relinquished by Gray Davis (D-Los Angeles), said Tuesday that she will seek to keep Terry B. Friedman of Westwood off the June 3 primary ballot.
Woodlock said she will ask the secretary of state and the Los Angeles County registrar-recorder's office to strike Friedman's candidacy. If they turn her down, she will go to court, she said.
But Oliver Cox, an attorney with the secretary of state, said Friedman's candidacy papers have been examined in Sacramento and appear to meet election code requirements.
The district, which straddles the Santa Monica Mountains to take in parts of the Westside and the West San Fernando Valley, is considered a safe seat for Democrats. After Davis' surprise decision earlier this month to run for state controller, Friedman quickly received the support of most of the Democratic politicians in the Westside and the Valley.
Friedman's new address triggered the controversy. For several years, Friedman lived in a section of Westwood within the 44th Assembly District. His apartment was just across the street from the 43rd Assembly District. On Feb. 8, Friedman said, he moved less than a mile to an apartment in the 43rd.
The secretary of state says a candidate must be a resident of a district for 30 days before entering a race. Woodlock says that Friedman moved into the district one day too late to qualify for the ballot.
To become a candidate, a person must both sign a declaration of candidacy, which Friedman did on March 8, the day he took out nomination papers, and return completed papers, which he did on March 12.
"There is a serious question whether he was a resident of the district," said Woodlock, an attorney.
The critical date, Woodlock contends, is when Friedman took out his nomination papers, not when he brought them back. She said she is basing her contention upon a statute that has never been tested in court.
Another issue Woodlock said she will pursue, if necessary, is whether Friedman's residency was fraudulent. She said circumstantial evidence indicates that Friedman did not move into the apartment on Feb. 8.
Friedman responded that he moved for two reasons: His former apartment needed repairs and he wanted to live in the 43rd District in case Davis decided not to seek reelection.
"I made the residency requirement," insisted Friedman, also an attorney. "When one candidate has a lot of support, there are efforts made to raise other issues. I don't think it is an issue."
Friedman said he considered his new apartment his official residence beginning Feb. 8.
Bruce Margolin, the other Democratic candidate in the 43rd District race, also has expressed concerns about when Friedman changed his residency. Margolin noted, for instance, that Friedman's gas was not turned on at the new apartment until Feb. 18.
"It's very important people qualify properly and they represent the district," Margolin said. "They can only do that if they live in the district long enough to understand the constituents." Friedman, however, says such arguments are not valid. "I'm not coming from South Carolina or San Jose," he said. "I'm a Westwood resident."