Anaheim Mayoral Candidates Tom Tait and Denis Fitzgerald Square Off in Court Today

Termed-out Anaheim Mayor Curt Pringle has hand picked his successor: engineering company president and former city councilman Tom Tait.

But three months before Election Day, Tait is battling one of his two challengers not in the voting booth but the courthouse.

On behalf of Anaheim H.O.M.E. (Home Owners Maintaining our Environment), mayoral candidate Denis Fitzgerald filed rebuttal arguments to local ballot measures J and K. Those arguments would appear in sample ballots distributed before the Nov. 2 election.

But Tait considers the words Fitzgerald used a personal attack, so he dragged the matter to Orange County Superior Court for a 1:30 p.m. hearing today.

Actually, the Orange County Register is reporting a settlement may be in the offing whereby Fitzgerald would agree to remove the contentious language.

Measure J would allow projects to be designed and built in Anaheim by the same firm, eliminating the need for two separate bidding processes. Measure K would ban red-light cameras in town, something the current City Council supports.

In his Measure J rebuttal, Fitzgerald calls out Tait by name, saying "the multi-millionaire from Anaheim Hills" would benefit from the new law. "If Measure J passes," writes Fitzgerald, "there may be serious questions concerning a mayor's business that could significantly benefit financially from Anaheim public works contracts."

His Measure K rebuttal argues the initiative is a popular "slam-dunk" bid aimed at drawing more voters who will also click yes for Measure J.

Fitzgerald's rebuttals appear on the city website, but Tait wants them removed from the sample ballot mailed to residents, arguing it unfairly singles him out and is false and misleading.

For instance, Tait notes, a mayor would be prohibited from bidding on city projects with or without Measure J.

Fitzgerald had accused Tait of harassment and using his wealth to silence opposition. But that was before the two met in a previous court hearing. Now, the Register reports, the two sides seem headed for a resolution.

So far, the third mayoral candidate, Shirley McCracken, has not been pulled into this.


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