October 19th, 2022 – South San Francisco, CA
The past few months we have received multiple inquiries regarding the Brown Act and on election legalities which we put forth to Rosa Govea Acosta, our City Clerk
Below is this conversation and we greatly appreciate Rosa’s immediate response. We hope this information resolves any questions our community may have had regarding these issues.
- What are the requirements for a council candidate to live in a specific district prior to campaigning for that new district? This question has come up regarding both Addiego and Flores moving from their established districts to the new ones prior to this campaign cycle.
When the city transitioned from at-large elections to District elections in 2018, the City Council approved the following residency requirements. The information is also available in the city’s Municipal Code Chapter 2.16 Municipal Elections and can be found here: https://library.qcode.us/lib/south_san_francisco_ca/pub/municipal_code/item/title_2-chapter_2_16?view=all
2.16.030 District-based electoral system requirements.
(b) Except as provided in subsection (c), each member of the city council elected to represent a district must reside in that district and be a registered voter in that district, and any candidate for city council must live in, and be a registered voter in, the city council district in which that candidate is seeking election at the time nomination papers are issued to that candidate pursuant to Government Code Section 34882 and Elections Code Section 10227. Termination of residency in a district by a member of the city council shall create an immediate vacancy for that city council district unless a substitute residence within the district is established within thirty days after that termination of residency.
California Government Code 34882
A person is not eligible to hold office as a member of a municipal legislative body unless he or she is otherwise qualified, resides in the district and both resided in the geographical area making up the district from which he or she is elected and was a registered voter of the city at the time nomination papers are issued to the candidate as provided for in Section 10227 of the Elections Code.
As the City Clerk, I did a preliminary verification of candidate eligibility by verifying residency with voter data provided by the San Mateo County Office of Elections. Once I determined they met the eligibility requirements, I issued nomination papers, as done with Mark Addiego and Eddie Flores.
Since our election is consolidated with the County, once candidates filed their nomination papers, I forwarded those documents to the San Mateo County Elections Office, which verified the candidates and determined if they qualified for office.
- Is there any accountability for a signed legal document stating a candidate will not be seeking election in the 2022 election yet then campaigns for that said election?
This question comes from Flores’ appointment application in 2020 stating he would not be seeking election in 2022, which is attached.
Any member of the public who is not disqualified by the Constitution or laws of the State from holding a civil office and meets the following requirements can run for public office in South San Francisco:
- Be at least eighteen years of age
- Be a citizen of the United States
- Be a resident of South San Francisco
- Be a registered voter and a resident within the district the candidate seeks to represent as a Councilmember
The City Council did not create any different rules for applicants who stated on their questionnaire that they didn’t plan at that time to run for City Council. I am unaware of a legal document or law that prohibits those applicants from changing their minds and deciding to run for office.
- How would the Brown Act be realized when three council members attend the same political event? This question comes from the photo posted on Senator Wiener’s social media, copied below, where he is posing with three SSF councilmembers Nagales, Flores, Coleman at a YIMBY political event.
As you know, the Brown Act was enacted in 1953 to guarantee the public’s right to attend and participate in meetings of local legislative bodies and as a response to growing concerns about local government officials’ practice of holding secret meetings that were not in compliance with advance public notice requirements. The Brown Act is pivotal in making public officials accountable for their actions and allowing the public to participate in decision-making.
While the City Council abides by the Brown Act, there are certain exceptions that allow a quorum of the City Council to gather, such as Conferences and retreats, other public meetings, meetings of other legislative bodies, and social or ceremonial events. These are exempt from the Brown Act provided that legislative members follow certain rules, such as limiting the discussion to the agenda in the conference; or that legislative members do not discuss the business of their legislative body amongst themselves. Regulations for these exceptions to meetings are contained in § 54952.2(c). Also excluded from the application of the Brown Act are individual contacts or conversations between a member of a legislative body and any other person (§ 54952.2(c) (1). Any other person is defined as a non-staff or non-board member.
Mega #YIMBY gathering to support @yimbyacvtion!
It was fun hanging out with some awesome city council members from Berkeley, South San Francisco & elsewhere, who deeply understand the need for more housing”
(From Senator Wiener’s twitter feed https://twitter.com/scott_wiener)