By KAREN VELIE
Attorneys for a group challenging San Luis Obispo County’s new redistricting map are seeking a temporary restraining order against the supervisors’ adoption of the Patten map.
SLO County Citizens for Good Government and three SLO County residents, registered Democrats, filed a lawsuit on Jan. 12 challenging the county’s selection of the Patten map, arguing it benefits the Republican Party at the expense of Democrats, in violation of state law. Generally, a suit challenging redistricting would have included an application for a temporary restraining order that would have resulted in a hearing within 15 days, which this lawsuit did not.
Filing for an exparte motion with Judge Hernaldo Baltodano allows the plaintiff’s attorneys to request a temporary restraining order without having to give more than a 48 hour notice to the defendants, and potentially without a hearing in which both parties can argue their points. Exparte in Latin means without requiring the presence of the other party.
Even though the judge is allowed to rule on Feb. 1 on the exparte motion, following that decision he would need to set a hearing where both sides can present evidence and argue the issues within 15 days.
An exparte order could temporarily restrain the county from holding elections based on the new supervisorial district map, and potentially confuse candidates running or planning to run for office.
Local supervisorial candidates are currently conducting campaigns based on the Patten map. For example, Bruce Jones has filed his intention to run for the District 2 supervisor seat currently held by Supervisor Bruce Gibson. Before redistricting, Jones lived in District 1.
During the past several weeks, Gibson has held office hours in Atascadero while already campaigning at events in the North County city that has moved from District 5 to District 2.