This year’s national election is full of fact or reality checks from a variety of news outlets. Westlake Revelations is doing the same locally. This article is in a series of “Election Reality Check” pieces about the election for Las Virgenes Municipal Water District. The statements chosen are based on comments the candidates have made to Westlake Revelations about the other candidate, as well as reader questions. The most relevant and frequently asked questions have priority.
“Joe Bowman was elected” or “Re-elect Joe Bowman”
Reality Check: At best, confusion about State Law. In reality, False. He’s never been elected, only appointed.
Joe Bowman was appointed provisionally in 2002 when the seat was vacated, and appointed in lieu of election twice (2004 and 2008) — confirmed with Los Angeles County Registrar’s Office. This has never meant “elected” and therefore the use of terms “elected” and “re-elect” are inappropriate and factually incorrect.*
If you were to call Los Angeles County Registrar’s office today, and ask the status of Joe Bowman, they would tell you that he has not been elected, but that he has been “appointed in lieu of an election” twice. Their current reporting system does not allow for the granularity of appointed provisionally, appointed in lieu of an election, or elected — and in realizing how this can be confused, LA County Registrar is moving to clarify the process for the future.
LA County is making this clarification because in their research, they found three state codes that cover this issue in California. “All three consistently state that someone who is appointed in lieu of an election will ‘serve as if elected’ which indicates that someone appointed is not elected — they simply serve in the same capacity as if they were elected,” said Alex Olvera, Division Manager, Election Information and Preparation, Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk.
The County’s position is also completely consistent with the English language. Dictionary.com defines “elected” as follows:
e·lect·ed? ?[ih-lek-tid] adjective
1. chosen by vote, as for an office (contrasted with appointed): an elected official.
Since an appointed official is not chosen by vote, they are not elected. It’s therefore inaccurate to say that person is elected, or running for re-relection. They are, however, definitely an incumbent. And, as stated before, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with being appointed (either provisionally, or in lieu of an election) — both save on unnecessary election costs.
The County has reached out directly to both Director Bowman and the Water District. Mr. Bowman as well as the Water District’s secretary to the General Manager have chosen to interpret the code differently from LA County, in contrast to state election code, and contrary to the dictionary definition. When the General Manager himself (not his secretary) was asked about it again recently, he replied “…quite frankly [I] don’t have the time to deal with this”.
We’re unsure if this is at the direction of the entire Board of Directors, an individual Board member, or if staff has taken it upon themselves to define the election rules for the District — but the result is the same: Joe Bowman and LVMWD have a different definition of “elected” than LA County or even what California’s election code indicates.
* Note: Joe Bowman has said to Westlake Revelations that he was told something different by the registrars office. But, our information direct from the LA County Registrar is what is contained in this article above. The Registrar’s office has not only reviewed and fact checked the above information, and confirmed it in writing, but they have reiterated the same in phone conversations. Furthermore, they have specifically confirmed that this is what is stated in California election code.