Supervisor starts legal battle to remain in office 

Supervisor Michela Alioto-Pier will file a lawsuit against The City today seeking to overturn the city attorney’s opinion that she is termed out of office so she can run for re-election. 

The lawsuit comes after Alioto-Pier filed papers with the Department of Elections on June 3 to enter the District 2 Board of Supervisors race only to be told she was ineligible.

Alioto-Pier was appointed by Mayor Gavin Newsom in January 2004 to fill the District 2 seat, which he vacated. Alioto-Pier was required to run for election in November 2004, prevailed, and served the remainder of what would have been Newsom’s complete four-year term, ending in January 2007. She was then re-elected and is serving a four-year term, which ends in January.

In 2008, City Attorney Dennis Herrera said in a memo that according to the City Charter, Alioto-Pier was termed out of office, an opinion used by Department of Elections Director John Arntz to determine she was an ineligible candidate.

Herrera and Arntz “ignore nearly 100 years of case law that dictate that any ambiguity surrounding a restriction on eligibility to run for public office must be resolved in favor of allowing an individual to run,” the draft complaint says. “By substitution of his own language for the words plainly stated in the Charter, the City Attorney has turned a very simple reading of the Charter into an unnecessarily complicated legal analysis and has, consequently, reached the wrong conclusion.”

Herrera reaffirmed on Friday his opinion in the 2008 memo, which said that someone who is appointed and serves more than two years of a four-year term will be considered to have served a four-year term “whether they stand for election during that period.”

Five seats on the Board of Supervisors are up for election in November with outcomes that could dramatically shift the political direction of the board.

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