Several former Huntington Beach mayors are asking voters to reject a controversial slate of City Charter amendments in the upcoming March primary, the most substantial of which include new election laws requiring voter ID and city monitoring of ballot drop boxes.
The new group, Protect Huntington Beach, was surrounded at a news conference outside of City Hall Wednesday afternoon by about 100 residents chanting “Vote no” as its members presented a laundry list of issues they have with the proposed charter amendments.
The amendments were placed on the March primary ballot this month by the City Council majority.
“This is an expensive, wasteful solution in search of a problem, and needs to be voted down,” said former Mayor Connie Boardman.
There are three charter amendments voters will consider in March – one concerning election laws, another requiring a unanimous City Council vote for the city to display commemorative flags on government property, and a third with administrative updates including moving Huntington Beach to a two-year budget cycle and changing how the council cancels its meetings.
Boardman said there isn’t a problem with voter fraud in Huntington Beach and argued the flag charter amendment was rooted in intolerance for the LGBTQ+ community.
“This is about flying the Pride Flag at City Hall in June and making it as hard as possible for any future council to do that,” Boardman said. A large pride flag was draped outside of City Hall during the press conference.
Mayor Tony Strickland, who is pushing for the amendments, said Wednesday that he is confident voters will approve the measures in March. He said they are on the March ballot so they can get the attention they deserve, and not be buried with statewide initiatives on a general election ballot.
Strickland said the election changes would give people more faith in elections. “People have to have trust and faith in our election system, otherwise our democracy doesn’t work.”
As for flags, Strickland said any flag the city flies “needs to represent 100% of the population,” adding that the flags that would be allowed including military flags and American and the state flag.
Boardman also took issue with the potential for a mayor gaining the power to cancel meetings. She said the current mechanism for canceling meetings is working.
Other former mayors in attendance included Barbara Delgleize, Jill Hardy, Linda Moulton-Patterson, Shirley Dettloff and Victor Leipzig. The former mayors criticized the cost of placing the charter amendments on the ballot.
An October staff report said the election will cost around $400,000. Boardman said it speaks to the popularity of the measures to be placed on the March primary ballot, instead of the November 2024 general election, where voter turnout is likely to be lower.
Pat Goodman, a member of the group, said they started getting together around January to analyze the City Council’s agenda. The political group, Goodman said, has no desire right now to continue organizing beyond the March election, “but as being spontaneous residents dedicated to good governance, who knows?”
Source: Orange County Register