Michela Alioto-Pier Will Take City to Court, if Necessary, to Run for Supe Again

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Michela Alioto-Pier is running until the judge says she can't
Yesterday, we reported on how Supervisor Michela Alioto-Pier took out papers with the Department of Elections to run again, even though a 2008 opinion from City Attorney Dennis Herrera claimed she was ineligible to do so. John Arntz, the head of the Department of Elections, says he'll respect Herrera's opinion and block Alioto-Pier from November's ballot.

Alioto-Pier's response: Tell it to the judge.

The District 2 supervisor told SF Weekly that if Herrera and Arntz do not relent, she will take legal action. Rather than filing a suit against the city -- as she last year told us she'd be open to doing -- Alioto-Pier will seek "declaratory relief" from a judge. Essentially, this entails asking a judge for his or her opinion of Herrera's ruling, with the expectation that if the judge opines that the city attorney's decision is flawed, he may relent. The judge's potential ruling is, however, subject to appeal; if the judge ruled in Alioto-Pier's favor and the city attorney chose to object -- well, then you'd have a full-on legal battle on your hands.

City Attorney spokesman Matt Dorsey said it was impossible to predict whether or not Herrera would appeal a declaratory relief decision that went against him -- though Dorsey did note "We don't see how a court comes to a ruling different than the City Attorney's."

Perhaps -- but, as we've noted before, Alioto-Pier is represented by legal heavyweight Jim Sutton -- and, in parsing Herrera's ruling, he may find an objection or two.

Here's a synopsis of Alioto-Pier's lament, as briefly as possible:

The crux of Herrera's opinion is that, per the city charter, public servants "appointed ... to complete in excess of two years of a four-year term" will be deemed to have served a full term. However, Alioto-Pier points out that she was in 2004 appointed by Gavin Newsom to fill his vacant seat, won a special election for a two-year term 10 months later, and then won re-election to a four-year term in 2007. By her calculation, she's in the tail end of her first four-year term. 

What's more, following the passage of Proposition C in 2001, it is now impossible to hold an appointed position for "in excess of two years." City law now mandates that appointees must run in special elections between 120 and 365 days of their appointment -- as Alioto-Pier successfully did.  

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D-2 candidate Janet Reilly says she's running, no matter what Alioto-Pier does or does not do
Whatever move Alioto-Pier and the city make, it won't have to come tomorrow. The papers the supervisor took out yesterday merely entitle her to fund-raise and open a campaign bank account. The paperwork to put her name on the ballot -- and the city's chance to enforce its current position that she can't be there -- comes in August.

In the meantime, Alioto-Pier's would-be successor, Janet Reilly, announced that even though she figured she was running for an open seat, she's not dropping out of the race. "While Supervisor Alioto-Pier has the right to challenge the City Attorney's opinion, it is unfortunate that she waited more than two years to do so," read a statement from Reilly's campaign manager, Patrick Collum. "Nothing about our campaign changes as a result." 
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