A group of citizens in Sonoma County have been fighting to defund and cancel the Sonoma/Marin Area Regional Transit Agency may be fighting the wrong battle, according to lawyers from the agency.

The petition started and circulated by the Repeal SMART group is working within the guidelines of the County election office, but the agency lawyers say that the petition must be run through the agency itself, as required by the authorizing ordinance that established the agency. If that were the case, the Agency’s board of directors would appoint SMART General Manager Farah Mansourian as its election official and he would write the impartial ballot analysis.

Opponents of the agency contend that this is a stall tactic and an unfair way to influence the petition and election process.

They are seeking an end to the quarter-cent sales tax that was approved in 2008 to build a rail line and bike and commuter path. But a weakened economy led to decreased funding, a delayed timeline, and a smaller-than-promised project.

From the Marin Independent Journal:

Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit officials are considering an ordinance that would revamp the process being used to repeal the rail project, a move criticized by SMART opponents as an effort to subvert their proposed initiative.

The grassroots group Repeal SMART started to collect signatures late last month in an attempt to stop the Marin-Sonoma commuter rail line that has run into financial difficulties.

But soon after it began, it received a letter from SMART attorneys saying the group is operating under the wrong section of the election code, which has opponents working with the Sonoma County elections office.

Read the full article here.