Mistakes in Filing Keep 3 Off Slate in Compton

Times Staff Writer

The names of two candidates for City Council and one for city clerk will not be on the April 16 municipal ballot because of errors on filing documents, City Clerk Charles Davis said Wednesday.

Davis said he will not certify the candidacy of council aspirants James Hays Jr., director of the Compton YMCA, and Walter Goodin, vice president of the city's United Council of Block Clubs, because of invalid signatures on their nominating papers.

Louis Johnson, who is running for clerk against Davis, also had his official candidacy nullified because of invalid signatures, Davis said.

To make the spring ballot, candidates had to submit several documents, including a nominating form with a minimum of 20 signatures of registered Compton voters.

Error Acknowledged

Another candidate, Patricia Moore in District 2, also was notified early Tuesday that she would not be on the spring ballot. But by afternoon, the county registrar of voters' office acknowledged that it had erroneously removed her from its list of registered voters, and her candidacy was accepted.

Nominating signatures of a fifth candidate, Seth Francois in District 3, also were challenged, but after a daylong review Davis said problems were with county voter rolls, not with Francois' documents.

For the three whose candidacies were struck, there is no appeal except through the courts, Davis said.

And Hays, who is running against District 2 incumbent Floyd James, said he plans to "file suit against the city to stop the election until we get this thing settled."

Goodin also said he will press the issue in court and run a write-in campaign if litigation is unsuccessful. Johnson said he may go to court and will continue to campaign.

'Just Another Ploy'

"I'm going to be on the ballot," said Goodin, who runs a maintenance and painting service. "It's just another ploy by the city clerk and his cohorts to keep (non-incumbent) candidates off the ballot. I went to the registrar's office, and the names he says are not valid are valid."

Goodin and Hays each turned in more than the required 20 signatures of voters registered in Compton, but when they were checked against county voter rolls, several were found to be invalid, Davis said.

"Some signatures didn't match," he said. "In some cases a wife apparently signed for a husband. But you can't sign other people's names."

Others who signed nominating papers were registered voters but not Compton residents, he said, so their endorsements were invalid for a city election.

Hays, who finished six nominating signatures short of the required 20, said he is certain that eight signatures rejected by Davis are valid. "Five (of those rejected) were from my immediate family members, and they are registered. Three others were rejected because of invalid addresses, and I know positively that they live at those addresses."

Of the rejected signatures of his relatives, Hays added, "The only way you could tell is if you were a handwriting expert, and the city clerk is not a handwriting expert."

Similar Argument

Johnson also maintained that several of his rejected signatures are valid, and he said he thought Davis was looking more closely at his documents because he and Davis are in the same race.

Officials from the county registrar of voters' office examined Johnson's documents instead of Davis because of the Compton clerk's involvement in the outcome, Davis said.

The clerk said he checked with both county and state election officials and the Compton city attorney's office before making his rulings. Then Wednesday he double-checked his findings, he said. City Attorney Wesley Fenderson Jr. referred all questions to Davis.

"The (candidates) are all swearing up and down that they witnessed all the signatures," said Davis. "But I've been to court on this before, so I know what the law is."

He disqualified three candidates with similar problems in the 1981 election and one in 1975, Davis said.

Johnson's predicament was more complicated. An operations analyst at Fairchild Control Systems Co. in Manhattan Beach, Johnson gathered 200 signatures in addition to the required 20 so he would not have to pay a $50 filing fee. When a number of those signatures proved invalid, Johnson was short a filing fee and was therefore not eligible for the ballot, said Davis.

Each of the candidates could have corrected problems in their applications had they not waited to file until near the deadline noon Saturday, Davis said.

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