CITRUS HEIGHTS — Porsche Middleton and members of her campaign staff just showed the city of Citrus Heights that they would fight the establishment and for the community.
Last week, a Sacramento County Superior Court judged ruled that Ms. Middleton — who is running for a seat on the Citrus Heights City Council — could use her title as Citrus Heights planning commission on the ballot for the Nov. 6 election.
As of Aug. 4, officials were “constitutionally and statutorily preventing” Ms. Middleton from expressing the most accurate “descriptive identifier” for her on the November 2018 General Election ballot, she said.
Superior Court Judge Allen Sumner agreed with Ms. Middleton. She said the issue beforehand was “critical” and if the ruling had gone the other way “that would have been the end of my campaign.”
“I’m happy that the judge understood that the title should be used,” Ms. Middleton told The OBSERVER in a telephone interview.
“This judge was a real stickler for the rules, laws and decided that this was the right thing. As the planning commissioner, which I’ve been doing for the last year and a half, it’s a better fit,” she added.
The crux of the case relied on the documented fact that in 2006, Citrus Heights election officials accepted Citrus Heights City Council candidate Laura Taylor’s proposed designation of “Planning Commissioner/Businesswoman,” the same governmental body on which Ms. Middleton serves, her lawyers argued.
Ms. Middleton raised $10,000 to fight what she called “an injustice,” since another candidate was able to identify as a Planning Commissioner for her campaign. Ms. Middleton was represented by the law firm Bell, McAndrews & Hiltachk, LLP.
Citrus Heights City Clerk Amy Van — who initially told Ms. Middleton that she could not use the ballot designation — was informed of the 2006 filing, but refused to correct her error.
“We haven’t seen any persuasive justification for the City’s denial, especially since the City has allowed identical ballot designations in the past,” said Brian T. Hildreth, of the law firm that won the ruling for Ms. Middleton.
The city clerk allowed Ms. Middleton to use “community volunteer” as a designation. But that was not enough. Ms. Middleton’s lawyers asked the court to intervene.
“We got together $10,000 to pay for the retainer for the lawyers, sued (the city), and won,” Ms. Middleton said. “We knew we were right. Since we actually sued the city, going forward, any person that sits on that planning committee and does the same amount of work with dedication and passion for their community, will be able to use that title and platform if they want to run for office.”
Since Aug. 4 to Aug. 30, the day the ruling sealed the deal for Ms. Middleton’s campaign to continue under the Planner Commissioner title, said she had “a lack of sleep” about the court case. She is the only Democrat in the race.
The ruling also opened up her desire to be a member of the City of Citrus Heights City Council, which will be decided by the voters. She said there are still objectors since the case has been settled. But “it’s time to break down those walls,” she said.
“This is more about the establishment and people who will do everything they can to block people from getting into office,” Ms. Middleton said. “It’s time to put people there, younger people, with fresh ideas into office.”
Ms. Middleton said she feels race has had an impact on the backlash she has been receiving.
“I can’t say for sure that it plays a role,” she said. “But we all know on some levels it does play a role. I just don’t know how much. Compared to my counterparts, I do have a more difficult path.”
It may be a difficult road for Ms. Middleton, but make no mistake about it, she said, she loves the community of Citrus Heights and she is ready to roll up her sleeves and work for her constituents as a City Councilwoman.
“It is our job to break down those barriers and build those bridges so that other people of color can run and be successful,” Ms. Middleton said. “Citrus Heights is a great community. I love the community and I love the people. We all have the same issues and we all want to have the same things in our community. This is worth fighting for so we can develop and grow as a community together.”
By Antonio R. Harvey
OBSERVER Staff Writer