'Homeless' gadfly tweaks City Hall
Would-be council candidate Jim Lohse says he deserves a shot
Mountain View residents know Jim Lohse as a medical marijuana activist. If he succeeds in convincing city election officials that he is homeless, they will soon get to know him a lot better.
Lohse wants to run for city council as a homeless resident of Mountain View. But city clerk Angee Salvador says Lohse, who sleeps at his sick mother's house in Cupertino, still needs to prove he lives in Mountain View.
"They don't say how to prove you're a resident," said Lohse. "I don't see anywhere in the law where there's a black-and-white definition that residency means where you put your head down at night."
Lohse began coming to council meetings last fall to support Jonathan Lustig's proposal to open a cannabis dispensary in Mountain View. Frustrated with the city's inaction on the issue, he kept coming to council meetings long after the council had dropped it. Over time, he became more and more interested in Mountain View politics, registering to vote in the city and tracking the council's activity on his Web site, www.councilwatchers.com.
If the city clerk decides to let Lohse run, it would undoubtedly make the campaign for the three open council seats more colorful. He has resorted to a wide variety of tactics in his effort to get the city to change its medical marijuana policy, which he continues to argue is unclear and unnecessarily harsh.
At one meeting, he played back a tape recording of Mayor Nick Galiotto's comments from a previous discussion. He has also written an essay about his dealings with the city. One chapter is titled, "Other People With Whom I Have a Bone To Pick."
When he began considering a run for office, he switched his mailing address to the downtown post office and listed his DMV address as 500 Castro Street, which happens to be City Hall.
No dice, says city attorney Michael Martello.
"You couldn't just be homeless and run for three different cities," he said. "You could be a resident without a home, but you can't live in another town and [say], 'I'm going to run here and claim I'm homeless. I think Jim Lohse is doing that."
The filing period for council candidates doesn't start until July 17, so the city attorney and city clerk have a few weeks to decide whether to let him run. If they decline, Lohse says, he'll be ready with a lawsuit.
"You've got to fight for your rights or you're going to lose 'em," he said.
E-mail Jon Wiener at email@example.com