The race for the San Mateo County controller's office in the June 3 election has taken another turn.
The attorney representing candidate Joe Galligan, the former Burlingame mayor and councilman who is running for controller, filed a petition with the California Court of Appeals in San Francisco on Wednesday, March 26, requesting an "extraordinary writ" ordering the county elections officer to keep the name of Juan Raigoza, the county's assistant controller, off the June 3 ballot.
Time is of the essence, given the need for the county to have ballots printed. Printing is scheduled for the week of April 14, a spokeswoman from the office of county Elections Officer Mark Church told the Almanac.
Mr. Galligan's attorney, Dennis Zell, said he expects the Court of Appeals to act quickly to resolve the question.
In the petition, Mr. Zell asserts that Mr. Raigoza, who was qualified for the ballot by Mr. Church, does not meet any of the four qualifications required to hold the office.
This is the second time Mr. Galligan has turned to the courts. On March 11, Mr. Galligan sued in Superior Court to question Mr. Raigoza's qualifications, but a judge ruled on March 24 that he had not provided "clear and convincing evidence" to prove his case that Mr. Raigoza was not qualified.
In a statement to the Almanac following that decision, Mr. Galligan said the judge told him that he had the burden of proving that Mr. Raigoza was not qualified, and that his lawsuit was denied because he had not done that. Another key factor in the decision: The law is ambiguous in its definitions of terms.
Under state law, a candidate for controller must be a certified public accountant; or, hold a bachelor's degree in accounting and have served within the last five years in a senior fiscal management position; or, hold a professional internal auditor certificate with a minimum of 16 college semester units, or their equivalents, in accounting, auditing or finance; or, have served at a specified level as a county auditor for a continuous period of at least three years.
On his candidacy website, Mr. Raigoza asserts that he has a bachelor's degree and a master's degree in business from California State University in Chico. His statement goes on to say that he has "lived and breathed the work of the County Controller's Office for the past thirteen years," including leading the payroll and information systems divisions and as a "senior internal auditor."