All aboard

What if they held an election for four Chico City Council seats and only one person ran? I checked this week with the city staff folks, including the ever-pleasant city clerk, Deborah Presson, to see who had taken out and, more important, returned their filing papers to run for the four seats open on the council. As of early July 28, only one person—banker and Planning Commissioner Jolene Francis—had done so. The deadline to turn in papers is Aug. 6, a little more than one week away. However, if an incumbent has not filed by that date, the deadline extends to Aug. 11. It looks as if Councilman Dan Nguyen-Tan, currently hobnobbing at the Democratic Party Convention in Boston, will not turn papers in—at least he said he won’t. The first day to pick up papers was July 12—the day Francis picked up hers. She turned them in on July 26. I’d heard that former City Manager Fred Davis, who’d taken out the papers on July 14, was scheduled to bring turn them in July 28, but that wasn’t confirmed by press time.

To qualify, you must secure the signatures of 20 to 30 registered voters who live in the city limits. If you’re having trouble getting people to sign, you can include your own signature. No voter can sign more than four nomination papers. (Well, he or she can, but only the first four signed will count.) If you hire someone to circulate the papers for you, that person must be registered to vote. In other words, you can’t force your young child to do it for you at the Saturday Farmers’ Market. You can include with your nomination papers a 200-word typed statement extolling your virtues. But that will cost you $1,175, or about $5.87 a word, assuming, that is, you can come up with 200 good words about yourself. And even then you can’t underline, bold or CAPITALIZE any of those words to try to give them extra emphasis. Don’t write: “I swear on Annie Bidwell’s grave that I am strong enough both physically AND mentally to pull this town together and make things right.” The city rule book doesn’t say anything about use of italics or exclamation points! Curiously, the rule book violates two of its own conditions in one shot when discussing Form 700, the Statement of Economic Interest: “Please return the completed Form 700 to the City Clerk’s Office when you file your nomination papers.” You can’t put your campaign signs up until Aug. 4, and they must be pulled down by Nov. 9. You cannot place them on public property or within any public right-of-way. Don’t put them on street signs, city trees, telephone poles or traffic signals. Good luck.

Here’s who else has pulled papers, their listed occupation and the date they took out the papers: DNA, impresario, July 26; Steve Bertagna (incumbent), business owner, July 22; Barbara Boeger, small-business coach, July 22; Damon Martin Fadale, developer/proprietor of Senator Theater, July 21; Jjon Mohr, business owner, July 21; John Merz, nonprofit administrator/environmental consultant, July 16; Andrew Holcombe, attorney, July 13; Larry Wahl (incumbent), small-business owner, July 12; Sharon Nichols, retired, July 12.

Speaking of politics, the aforementioned Nguyen-Tan is keeping in touch from Boston. He’s working as sort of freelance reporter for CNN and sent us two e-mails so far. Sunday: “Have no idea what CNN will televise over the course of the week, but I’m having a blast practicing guerilla interviewing techniques with my little video camera. So far in two days before the convention has even started, I’ve conducted quick interviews with Gloria Steinem, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, Al Sharpton, Arianna Huffington, DNC Chairman Terry McAuliffe, California Congressman Brad Sherman, D.C. Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, Planned Parenthood Federation of America President Gloria Feldt and infamous Ohio delegate Jerry Springer.” No word on whether Springer kept his pants on during the interview. On Wednesday, Nguyen-Tan checked in to tell us he’d met and interviewed Walter Mondale, San Fran Mayor Gavin Newsom, former Gov. Jerry Brown and former Texas Gov. Ann Richards.