SIMI VALLEY : Mayor Won't Have to Pay Fees of Rival

A Ventura County judge ruled Tuesday that Simi Valley Mayor Greg Stratton does not have to pay the attorney's fees of a political rival who successfully sued to disqualify Stratton in the race for county auditor-controller.

Ventura accountant William Baker had sued Stratton to recover the $10,000 he spent in a legal battle to remove Stratton's name from the June 7 ballot. Baker won his suit that contended Stratton failed to meet the educational requirements of the job as outlined in a 1957 state law.

On Tuesday, Superior Court Judge William L. Peck, who disqualified Stratton from the auditor's race, ruled that Baker's campaign benefited from Stratton's removal and so he had no cause to file for reimbursement of his attorney fees. Before Stratton was disqualified, there were six candidates in the race.

"I don't feel bad at all," Baker said. "I thought there was a 50-50 chance of winning this. I accept the judge's decision."

Stratton said he was relieved that the matter was behind him.

"I'm pleased to get this over," he said. "It's been a very trying experience."

Baker filed a lawsuit against Stratton in March to disqualify him from the race because he lacked the accounting experience required by the 1957 law. Stratton argued that the job requirements were outdated and that his master's degree in business administration more than qualified him to run for auditor-controller.

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