Press Release (from Mark Fitz)
DAMASCUS, Ore. – Planning Commission Chairman successfully challenges City Ballot Title for a Citizen Initiative Comp Plan on the grounds that it was potentially confusing to voters.
On July 3rd, Mark Fitz, Damascus Planning Commission Chair, acting as a citizen of Damascus, filed a complaint against a given ballot title for a Citizen Initiative Plan. On July 29th, 2014 Clackamas County Judge Robert Herndon issued a revised ballot title after hearing oral arguments before his Court on July 28th.
Judge Herndon ruled in favor of some of Fitz’s arguments, redrafting portions of the ballot measure question and summary.
The citizen initiative comprehensive plan belongs to Chief Petitioner Richard Johnson and Damascus City Councilor James De Young. De Young, who had previously voted against the draft plan more than once during the formal Comprehensive Plan process, is assisting bring it to the ballot for a second time with an Oregon PAC called Move Damascus Forward. De Young argued for the need of a speedy answer from Judge Herndon on July 28th from the audience of the Court appearing in the courtroom to lead the effort.
Fitz opposes their efforts for a competing plan on the basis that it makes it less likely for Damascus to pass a Comprehensive Plan required under Oregon state law. The confusion caused by two plans on the ballot at the same time with nearly identical language was made obvious to Fitz in the previous election where three Comprehensive Plans were on the ballot which included this same Johnson/De Young draft plan.
Fitz in his complaint stated that the Damascus City Attorney had drafted a confusing ballot title which could potentially mislead voters. Among other arguments Fitz stated that the proposed citizen initiative comprehensive plan was a dead end of the City Council’s legislative process and that this needed to be stated clearly in the summary of the of the ballot measure title.
Judge Herndon in his decision stated:
“I have completed my review of the pleadings you have submitted regarding the ballot title and agree with some portions of the petitioner’s argument the current ballot title may result in elector confusion regarding the measure.”
The Chief Petitioner, Richard Johnson of Damascus, is expected to collect signatures and refer this Citizen Initiative to the ballot in November. Fitz, as Chair of the Planning Commission, is dedicated to passing any and all Plan’s placed before the voters of Damascus for the good of the City.