Boosters of a charter referendum that would make all Orange County races partisan contests are pressing elected leaders to put it on the ballot in November.
Last week the groups Citizens for Informed Voters met the petition requirement to get the ballot measure before voters, topping the roughly 45,000 that were needed. But technically, the Orange County Commission must still vote to place it on the ballot.
That didn’t happen the last — and only — time that a petition campaign successfully met that voter petition requirement. In 2012, advocates for a mandatory paid sick time referendum collected a similar number of signatures, but the Commission opted to delay its placement on the ballot.
A judicial panel later ruled that this violated the county charter, and ordered the measure to appear on the next countywide ballot, which will be Aug. 26. However, Republican lawmakers last year passed a law that preempted local governments from enacting such rules, so it’s basically a straw poll that voters will weigh in on.
But advocates for the pending partisan charter measure don’t want to see that delay tactic happen again. In a message that’s been moving across social media in the last couple days, supporters are asking:
“Orange County Commissioners: Are you going to break the law again? Don’t deny 50,000 voters”
Election Supervisor Bill Colwes said he had not received any indication that the measure would not be approved for the ballot by the County Commission.
And one of the key architects of keeping the paid sick time measure off the 2012 ballot said this latest petition-driven referendum does not appear to be as objectionable.
“It’s gotta go on the ballot,” said Commissioner Fred Brummer, who said at this point he would vote to put it to voters this in November.
Brummer sided with tourism and other business leaders in opposing the paid sick time measure’s ballot placement in 2012, agreeing with those who said it was misleading, confusing and would cost jobs.
“I don’t know that this has the same flaws,” Brummer said, referring to the partisan-race proposal.
However, Brummer is promoting a competing set of charter amendments which would curb the voter-initiative process, and make all county races non-partisan. It would also add term limits to certain county offices.
One or more of those proposals could appear on the same ballot as the partisan-race measure pushed by Citizens for Informed Elections.