The Livermore elections official who is suing five residents over language in a ballot initiative argument they prepared resigned from her post last week.
Sarah Bunting, Livermore’s city clerk, who also is the elections official, left the city to accept employment from another public entity, Livermore City Attorney Jason Alcala confirmed. Alcala said Bunting did not submit to the city a resignation letter. He did not say where Bunting is going to work.
Bunting’s departure will have no effect on her Sept. 30 lawsuit against William Dunlop, Calvin Wood, Jeffrey Kaskey, Jeanette King and Jose Barrientos, Alcala said.
The writ was filed by the city clerk in her official capacity as a statutory and constitutional officer, he wrote in response to questions from The Independent. “That position continues to exist, and the writ will proceed with the acting city clerk filling that role in her official capacity,” he stated in the email. Marie Webber, a deputy city clerk, was appointed acting clerk.
As the case moves forward, the lawsuit will retain Bunting’s name as the sole petitioner, Alcala said. While the law allows a lawsuit to be amended to substitute a departed official’s name after a case is filed, it is not required, Alcala noted. For this case, the case title will not be changed.
Attorneys for the residents named in the lawsuit did not return a call or email seeking comment. The residents authored rebuttal arguments in favor of a November 2020 Central Park ballot initiative that asks Livermore voters to amend the city’s land use regulations and to change the mix of land uses and development standards for both downtown Livermore and the Pacific Avenue areas.
The lawsuit alleges the proponents used false and deceptive language in rebuttal arguments they prepared for official voter information materials. Following a process prescribed by the state elections code, Bunting filed a writ of mandate with Alameda County Superior Court, asking for a judge to intervene and order the authors to delete or change the language included in the ballot arguments.
The bulk of the challenge centers on what Bunting’s suit claims are political arguments and opinion, improperly labeled as fact. The lawsuit also challenges some statements the proponents assert as fact, claiming the statements are “demonstrably false.”
As of press time Tuesday, Bunting’s online resume on LinkedIn had not yet been updated to reflect her new position or departure from employment with the city of Livermore. She did not return a message seeking comment.
Bunting worked for the city of Livermore in various positions almost exclusively since 2001, according to her online resume. Her only break from employment with the city was for a year and four months in 2017 and 2018 when she worked as an assistant city clerk for the City of Berkeley. She returned to Livermore in April 2018 when she served as city clerk until last week.