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Ballot dispute resolved

August 31, 2002

Paul Clinton

Two local candidates for a county judgeship ended a week of legal

feuding over each other's ballot statements Friday by settling the

matter out of court.

Candidates Vickie Bridgman and Kelly Ann MacEachern, both running

for Orange County Superior Court judgeship No. 22, agreed to several

modifications prior to submitting the re-worded statements to a

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judge.

"We're pleased with the resolution of this case," said Michael

Schroeder, MacEachern's attorney. "The changes are minor."

Most notably, Bridgman agreed to delete a reference to Rep. Chris

Cox (R-Newport) from her Aug. 8 statement in which she quoted him as

calling her "superbly qualified."

Cox himself had asked for the removal of his name in an Aug. 20

letter, after learning about the reference. Newport Beach's

congressman sent similar letters to both candidates, in which he

praised them both for qualifying in the March 5 primary.

Bridgman and MacEachern secured 46% and 36% respectively in the

primary to move to a Nov. 5 runoff. They must run against each other

since neither secured more than 50% of the vote.

Superior Court Judge Thomas Thrasher presided over a Friday

morning legal proceeding in which the revisions were added. Registrar

of Voters Rosalyn Lever, a defendant in both suits, had set a Friday

afternoon deadline for the statements so she could send them of to be

printed.

"The participants have been able to reach a resolution of the

disputed candidate statements," Thrasher said in his Santa Ana

courtroom. "Good luck in the election to both of you."

MacEachern also made several minor changes to her statement.

Challenges to candidates' ballot statements are fairly common, the

attorneys said. Bridgman's attorney Darryl Wold said he has handled

several this election cycle already.

When candidates pick up an application to fill out a statement,

Lever's office tells them they can include anything that tells

voters, in 200 words, about their qualifications or education. For an

additional fee, they can extend the statement to 400 words. Of

course, they are also not permitted to misrepresent themselves, Wold

said.

"This is a pretty routine thing," Wold said. "The changes are

equal to both [candidates]."

MacEachern touched off the legal fight when she filed a suit Aug.

22 alleging that Bridgman had made "false and misleading statements"

in her ballot comments.

Bridgman countered by activating a lawsuit she filed Aug. 19 as a

preemptive move accusing MacEachern of a similar charge.

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