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By Brian Hews
Hews Media Group-Community News, through an examination of the City of Cerritos’ own City Charter, has learned that Cerritos Council candidate Bruce Barrows is prohibited from running for City Council in the upcoming April election.
The revelation will come as a huge shock to Barrows and his supporters as the perpetual councilmember and former mayor is a favorite among the “old guard” of Cerritos Republicans.
When HMG-CN examined the City’s Charter, found the violation, and informed City residents, several residents came forward and offered to file a formal Letter of Protest at the City Clerk’s office demanding that Barrows’ name be removed from the ballot.
Long-time resident Angel Soto, who was instrumental in the first fight to limit City Council terms, volunteered and retained the Pico Rivera based law firm of Kenney and Kropff to file the letter.
Soto told HMG-CN he will deliver the letter to the City Clerk on Friday Feb. 17, 2016.
The preclusion of Barrows from the City Council race stems from a simple statement under Article IV of the City’s Charter titled “Elective Officers.”
Under Section 400, one simple paragraph defines “Limitation of Terms” of elected officials.
The paragraph states “any Council member who has served two consecutive four year terms shall not be eligible for a period of two years to seek reelection or be appointed to the Cerritos City Council.”
Barrows last served two consecutive terms between 2007 and 2015, leaving office in March of 2015.
“It is very clear,” said Soto, “you cannot seek reelection for a period of two years after you leave.”
The key words in Article IV and the subparagraph is “for a period of two years” and “seek.”
The period of two years is not debatable, it is a clear time line.
Webster’s lists the definition of seek as, “to try to acquire or gain, or to make an attempt.”
Barrows, by filing his paperwork in mid January 2017, was trying to acquire, gain and make an attempt to secure a City Council seat six weeks before he was eligible to do.
But, as clearly stated in the Charter, Barrows could not “seek” an open council seat “for a period of two years” which indicates he could not start his bid for a council seat until March 2017.
Soto will be delivering the Letter of Protest to Cerritos City Clerk Vida Barone, and intends to file an injunction or lawsuit against the City to stop Barrows from running.
The letter from Kenney and Korpff states, “Dear Ms. Barone: Please be advised that this office serves as counsel to Angel Soto.
After reading the referenced article, and the subsection entitled “Limitation of Terms”, Mr. Soto has expressed his concern over Bruce Barrows (running for election.)
Since Mr. Barrows’ prior term expired March 3, 2015, a strict interpretation of the City Charter section appears to disqualify Mr. Barrows from seeking reelection, including the filing of any candidacy papers, prior to March 3, 2017.
Please advise forthwith if the Clerk’s office concurs with the proposition that Mr. Bruce Barrows is ineligible to seek reelection until March 3, 2017. Thank you. Sincerely yours, David E. Kenney, Esq.
The HMG-CN revelation will also prevent other candidates from running after they term out unless they change the City’s Charter, which would likely raise the ire of thousands of Cerritos residents and bring back a movement for term limits in Cerritos.
Emails into Barrows went unreturned. HMG-CN also emailed Barrows’ political allies Carol Chen and current Council candidate Chuong Vo, who is supported by Barrows and Chen for comment, but neither had responded at the time of print and internet publication.
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