CYPRESS : Recall Fight Focuses on Content of Ballot

The city's political war over the recall of three officials escalated Friday with a court skirmish over just what will be on the recall ballot.

The city government requested that Orange County Superior Court either throw out or modify recall advocates' arguments against several advisory measures on the Nov. 7 ballot. Judge William F. McDonald ruled that the matter should be continued until Sept. 1.

At issue is what state law allows people or groups to state in their ballot arguments. Cypress city officials contend in a lawsuit that recall advocates, in their proposed arguments against advisory measures, said nothing on the merits of the issues themselves.

There are three separate issues on the Nov. 7 ballot: a recall aimed at three members of the City Council; election of successors if those people are recalled; and the advisory measures.

According to the city government's lawsuit, the recall advocates' statements "merely urge a particular vote on several recalls which are also included on the Nov. 7, 1995, ballot."

But recall advocates charged angrily that the incumbent City Council is trying illegally to throw out their ballot arguments. "They're trying to pull a fast one on us," said Bob Pepper, president of the Cypress Recall Committee.

Earlier this year, the Cypress Recall Committee succeeded in getting enough voter signatures to force a recall referendum against Mayor Cecilia L. Age and council members Walter K. Bowman and Gail H. Kerry.

The recall effort was triggered by a Sept. 26 vote by the City Council to allow construction of a carpet-distribution warehouse in the Valley View Street area.

After the recall election qualified, the City Council voted to put nine advisory measures on the same Nov. 7 ballot. Those advisory issues include such questions as how voters feel about proposed new parks and sports fields.

Pepper and other recall advocates say the City Council added the advisory issues to attract more pro-council voters. "Purely and simply the council tried to dilute the significance of the recall by adding these other questions," Pepper said.

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