The California Court of Appeals has denied a request by Joe Galligan, a candidate in the June 3 election for county controller, to keep the name of another candidate, Assistant Controller Juan Raigoza, off the ballot on the grounds that he does not meet state qualifications for the position.
Mr. Galligan's attorney filed a petition Wednesday, March 26, for an "extraordinary writ" that would have ordered San Mateo County Elections Officer Mark Church to keep Mr. Raigoza's name off the ballot. The court denied the petition today (March 27).
The ruling should not be thought of as a comment on the merits of the petition, said Dennis Zell, Mr. Galligan's attorney. "In the appellate courts, a petition for a writ of mandate is truly an extraordinary remedy in as much as 94 percent are denied," he said. "The odds are sometimes better in election cases, but not always. Generally no reason is given for denial, which is one of the reasons why a denial carries so little significance."
Mr. Galligan still has options, Mr. Zell said. He has 60 days to appeal a Superior Court decision on March 24 that rejected his assertion that Mr. Raigoza did not meet the state's qualifications.
In a statement to the Almanac following that decision, Mr. Galligan said he was told that he had the burden of proving that Mr. Raigoza was not qualified. The judge told him that he had not proved his case with "clear and convincing evidence," Mr. Galligan said. Another key factor in the decision: The law is ambiguous in defining terms, including the term "senior fiscal management."
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."
Remarking on the Appeals Court ruling, Mr. Galligan said: "I just hope in the future that the courts or our Legislature define the wording of 'senior fiscal management' so no one else has to go through this process."