Candidate for county clerk cannot appear on ballot

A Los Alamitos city councilman who was disqualified from a race for Orange County clerk-recorder because he was seen gathering nomination signatures past a filing deadline will not be on the June ballot, a judge ruled Friday.

Troy Edgar can be seen in surveillance video from the county's elections office on the afternoon of March 7, apparently gathering signatures on a nomination form after the 5 p.m. deadline to file paperwork.

In the full-color video, Edgar appears to add "at least two or three" signatures to his nomination form — which requires a total of 20 — after the deadline, county Registrar of Voters Neal Kelley has said.

As a result, Kelley rejected the former Los Alamitos mayor's candidacy.

On March 17, Edgar sued to overturn Kelley's decision, arguing that he had arrived at the registrar's office with ample time to obtain and complete the paperwork, but that the office didn't have enough staff on hand to handle the last-minute crush.

Furthermore, court documents say, nine other candidates for a variety of positions also missed the filing deadline.

Edgar's papers were time-stamped and accepted at 5:20 p.m., and he was disqualified. Therefore, all other candidates whose papers were time-stamped after 5 p.m. — including County Assessor Webster Guillory and Orange County Superintendent of Schools Al Mijares, both incumbents — should face the same fate, the petition contends.

But Orange County Superior Court Judge William Claster found those arguments spurious, he wrote in a court order this week.

"Having previously run for election in Orange County ... [Edgar] knew about the 5:00 p.m. deadline, but assumed he could complete the process in less than an hour," he wrote. "Obviously, he failed to take into account the possibility of many other candidates also showing up at the last minute."

Claster also noted that the registrar traditionally locks its office door at a specified time to ensure that any candidate paperwork is delivered by the deadline, even if staff will not be able to process it until later.

Minus Edgar, four candidates — including incumbent Hugh Nguyen — are left vying to head the clerk-recorder's office, which is tasked with managing the county's public records, such as marriage licenses and deeds.

Edgar, who lost a 2012 bid for the 72nd Assembly District seat now held by Assemblyman Travis Allen (R-Huntington Beach), said Friday afternoon that he was disappointed but respects the court's decision.

"I went into this knowing the burden was very high," he said. "I got a fair hearing from a very well-prepared judge."

He added that he'll discuss his options moving forward with his attorney, but that he plans to stay focused on his work with the Los Alamitos City Council.

"I've got one more term left," he said.

Kelley called the ruling "critical" in reaffirming the importance of playing by the rules and sticking to deadlines.

"Now I'm focused on the biggest deadline for us," he said, "which is Election Day."

That's June 3.

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