Kern County Superior Court ruled in favor of the City of Tehachapi and City Elections Official Ashley Whitmore in a civil suit brought forth by Peter Graff on Wednesday.
In his ruling Judge J. Eric Bradshaw reiterated the importance of the City Elections Official’s role in deeming what qualifies as a valid petition; and ruling against Graff’s latest suit against the City and Whitmore specifically.
Graff’s unfounded allegations stemmed from the invalid petitions he submitted in an attempt to overturn the Tehachapi City Council’s unanimous decision in December to split the City into five voting districts in accordance with the California Voting Rights Act.
Graff’s petitions were initially reviewed by Whitmore and Tehachapi City Clerk Tori Marsh as well as outside legal counsel. That counsel confirmed the invalidations during a visit to Tehachapi citing a number of fatal flaws, one of which was the failure to clearly list the text of the ordinance that was being challenged on each page. Previous case law and the California Elections Code has stated this is required as that omission can be misleading to voters. Graff was informed his petitions were denied by Whitmore on January 24, 2018.
In response, Graff filed suit against Whitmore, alleging misconduct in her handling of the matter. All of the allegations were refuted by Whitmore and depositions from other City staff that were involved. The Judge ultimately valued those facts over the unfounded allegations brought on by Graff.
“I’m not surprised with this ruling given the fact that we handled this petition professionally and properly during the entire process,” Whitmore said. “I am happy to have this distraction behind us as we focus on the business of the citizens in Tehachapi.”