FAIRFIELD — It was an unusual start to a legal argument raised by Solano County’s top attorney trying to keep a Fairfield bail bondsman off the June primary election ballot.
County Counsel Dennis Bunting looked Judge Scott L. Kays in the eyes and quoted from the Simon and Garfunkel song, “The Boxer.”
“A man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest,” Bunting said.
Kays did not bat an eye. It is unknown if Simon and Garfunkel had ever previously been cited in his court.
Bunting went on to explain that bail bondsman Joel “Tom” Toler and his attorney were misinterpreting election laws that were invoked by Solano County Registrar of Voters Ira Rosenthal back on March 7, the final day for people to declare their candidacy for the June election.
Toler wanted to unseat Sheriff Thomas Ferrara, but Rosenthal decided Toler did not have the experience for the job required by state law. The law includes a clause that candidates for sheriff must have worked as a peace officer within a year of the election.
Toler turned to the courts, asking a judge to order Rosenthal to add Toler’s name on the ballot. Toler had spent a few weeks earlier this year working as a cop in Jemez Springs, N.M., population 250. He also worked many years ago as a cop in Vacaville and in Winters.
Toler and his attorney argued the brief stint in New Mexico complies with the state law passed in the 1980s, which make no mention of the law enforcement having to be done in California. They brought with them to court declarations siding with Toler’s belief made by the former state senator who authored the law that created the work-experience requirement, along with declarations from two retired sheriffs who had sponsored the legislation.
Kays ruled the declarations were useless.
“. . . (T)he court may not assume that a party’s intention in sponsoring a bill was [the] same as the Legislature’s intention in passing the bill,” Kays said.
Toler’s attorney said county officials were simply creating an incumbent assurance program by their actions and he urged Kays to let voters be the ones to decide who they want as their sheriff.
After the hearing, Kays declined to reverse the registrar’s decision and issued a ruling that Toler had not established his qualifications for the office of sheriff. Toler, after the ruling, said his attorney would be filing an appeal Wednesday morning.
Assistant Registrar of Voters John Gardner said the county plans to have the ballot for the June 3 primary election sent off for printing Friday. Gardner declined to comment on Toler’s effort.
Reach Jess Sullivan at 427-6919 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jsullivandr.