Though Measure A will not appear on the November 2 ballot, proponents of the controversial Community Water Rights initiative say they’re not giving up.
In a decision issued Monday, Judge Karen Dixon denied the proponent’s writ to compel Siskiyou County Clerk Colleen Setzer to reinstate Measure A on the upcoming general election ballot.
Dixon ruled that Setzer was never formally appointed as Mount Shasta’s elections official, and therefore she can not be ordered to reinstate Measure A. No further direction was given to place the measure on any ballot.
“Because the city made a procedural error, citizens are being denied their right to vote,” said proponent Ami Marcus in a statement released Tuesday morning.
Mount Shasta city manager Ted Marconi said the city handled this election in the same manner they always have.
“The city council passed a resolution authorizing the consolidation of the elections,” Marconi said. “We assumed that this made [Setzer] the elections official, though the resolution never specifically laid out the duties she’d perform.”
The city had no idea of any problem with the elections process until they received Setzer’s Aug. 12 letter revoking her certification of the measure, Marconi said.
“The real concern is that justice was not served by this ruling,” said Measure A proponent Molly Brown. “Through no fault of proponents or residents, the right to decide has been stripped from the voters of Mount Shasta.”
Proponents are now looking to the city council for a remedy to the situation, according to Tuesday’s statement.
“Regardless of whether they agree with the content, the city council has consistently supported the ordinance going to a vote of the people, and we trust that they will do what it takes to make that happen,” states Marcus.
Marconi said the only thing the council could do in this situation is call a special election, which would cost the city a significant amount of money – perhaps as much as $15,000.
At this point, it is too late to include Measure A on the general election ballot, as the printing process has already begun, according to county counsel Tom Guarino at the Sept. 10 hearing.
“We don’t blame the city council for their oversight, but we do expect them to fix this,” said Brown. “After literally thousands of hours of volunteer time, hundreds of signatures and public testimonials before the city council, a citizens’ initiative can be thrown off the ballot because the city made a minor mistake? How is that democratic?”
Measure A proposes, in part, to restrict bulk water extraction from within Mount Shasta’s city limits and would allow citizens to compel the city to take action if they feel they have been harmed by cloud seeding.
Though Dixon did hear arguments regarding the constitutionality of the proposed ordinance during the Sept. 10 hearing, she did not issue a ruling on that point.
As for how the proponents will proceed, Marcus said they’re “exploring their options.”
If proponents attend the Mount Shasta City Council meeting on Monday, Marconi said no action regarding the ordinance could be taken, but comment could be heard and an item could be included on the next meeting’s agenda.