A once-prospective Alameda City Council candidate who literally failed at the last-minute to qualify for the November ballot because he lost his check book said Monday that he will move forward with this campaign. However, Amos White signaled a write-in candidacy is unlikely to follow, while avoiding questions of whether he intends to sue the city in order to gain inclusion on the fall ballot.
The moments just prior to the 6 p.m. deadline last Aug. 15 for candidates to file in the City Council race are in dispute. White reiterated during press conference in front of Alameda City Hall Monday afternoon that the city clerk was unable to accept payment for fees associated with his filing. He said he arrived 25 minutes before the evening deadline and filled out one of the last remaining documents required of him–a Form 700 statement of economic interests form.
White completed the form and handed it to Weisinger, who stamped the collection of filing papers. “She said, ‘All I need is your payment’ and Alan says, ‘You have eight minutes,'” he recalled, referring to Alameda City Clerk Lara Weisinger and Assistant City Attorney Alan Cohen.
White then noticed his check book was missing, possibly at the library across the street from City Hall where he had just left. With time ticking down toward the deadline, which is set by the state election code, what occurred next is disputed.
Cohen said to him, “You have two minutes,” according to White, who attempted to call the library but received no answer. White then asked Weisinger if she could accept a credit card. She replied affirmatively, said White. “‘Yes! I go, problem solved.” However, Weisinger added she had no way of swiping the card since the finance department located downstairs was closed and had already reconciled the days transactions.
White pressed on, asking Weisinger to take an impression of his credit card or call in the account number to the bank. “You’re the clerk, right? Just record it and stamp it,” White said Monday. “She said, ‘I can’t receive it’ and I respect her,” said White. “Whatever her policy is or the city’s policy is–it is what it is–but as I said, I got in this race for a reason. It’s to fix problems like that.”
“I was crushed,” said White. “I saw Lara’s face and she just said, ‘I’m sorry. I’m sorry.’ But I saw her face, which let me know how bad my face looked.”
But according to sources at City Hall, White’s chain of events is not entirely true. White never presented a debit or credit card to the clerk, they said. And the time frame of eight minutes before the deadline was much shorter, just a tick before the clock struck six.
The state election code is quite clear that there is no wiggle room when it comes to the filing deadline. In addition, the exact time of the deadline corresponds with the city normal closing hours. Candidates filing for office also sign a form beforehand acknowledging this deadline.
Exactly what White’s campaign intends to do next is unclear. After speaking with political consultants, White ruled out a write-in candidacy, calling it an “uphill battle.” Furthermore, White’s comments Monday afternoon and the effusive praise of the city clerk appears to absolve the city of any wrong doing. He called Weisinger “the most supportive person in this whole process. She’s been open, helpful, and supportive.”
The group of about 25 supporters and onlookers in front of City Hall Monday afternoon included Alameda Mayor Trish Herrera Spencer and City Treasurer Kevin Kennedy, along with a mixture of artists and individuals associated with the city’s landlord groups.
A few supporters urged White to challenge the city in court and for his inclusion in upcoming candidate forums for the council race, starting with Wednesday night’s at the Elks Lodge in Alameda. At one point, they chanted, “Justice delayed is justice denied.”
White added that he currently has no legal representation in the matter, but acknowledged attorneys have contacted the city regarding the filing snafu. If a legal complaint is made by White’s campaign, time is of the essence, with just days remaining before the November ballot is finalized for printing.