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OXNARD : Commission Backers Seek Signature Count

A group of Oxnard activists who organized an initiative drive to reinstate the city’s Planning Commission are asking for a full count of signatures after a sample count showed the group is unlikely to have enough valid names.

Former Oxnard Mayor Jane Tolmach, who led the drive to put the fate of the Planning Commission before the city’s voters, contends that seven of the signatures ruled invalid by Ventura County elections officials were good.

According to Oxnard City Clerk Daniel Martinez, the disputed signatures would make a difference because they would give the activists enough valid signatures within the sample to force a full count.

Under the California elections code, the county clerk analyzes a random sampling of 500 signatures. Of the 500 signatures checked by county officials, 20.6% were rejected, and from that, the officials determined that the overall signatures submitted were not sufficient.

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The coalition of activists submitted a petition containing 6,135 signatures--17% more than the required 5,216 needed to place a measure on the November, 1996, ballot.

Tolmach and the other activists believe that they have the necessary signatures and want Bruce Bradley, the county’s elections chief, to check them all.

However, Martinez has yet to hand over the list of signatures to the county, saying that he is unsure if it is the legal thing for him to do.

He and Oxnard’s city attorney plan to meet with Bradley today to decide the petition’s fate.

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Tolmach, meanwhile, is crying foul, accusing Oxnard’s bureaucrats of playing legal games to deny the will of the people.

“What’s going on with this is just disgusting,” she said. “They should just count the signatures and decide this once and for all.”

Despite widespread community opposition, the Oxnard City Council disbanded the Planning Commission in January, saying the five-member panel was a cumbersome bureaucracy that was slowing progress.


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