Steven Chavez Lodge, a candidate running for Anaheim City Council in California, will be permitted to use his surname "Chavez" on the ballot, an Orange County Superior Court judge ruled Tuesday.
Judge Charles Margines initially ruled to ban Lodge from using the surname in the election -- the outcome of a lawsuit filed by political blogger Cynthia Ward, accusing Lodge of using the Latino name for political gain -- but the judge has since done a complete 180 and reversed his earlier ruling.
Though Lodge will be allowed to use the name Chavez -- the name on his birth certificate -- he must also use his middle name "Albert" on the ballot as part of the ruling. Additionally, Chavez will not be able to identify himself as a retired police officer since he is currently employed full-time as the director of public affairs at Hill International.
While the reversal of his ruling may seem curious, Margines explained that Lodge's attorney, Steve Baric, reminded him that Lodge had used "Chavez" in an earlier court case on his docket when Lodge was a police officer.
In his initial ruling, Margines wrote: "The overwhelming evidence shows that he [Lodge] has not used ‘Chavez’ as a last name or middle name in any documentable transactions or government filings until August 2012."
Since Lodge did use the name Chavez before August 2012 in court -- Margines' court, no less -- Margines was forced to reverse his tenuous decision based on "overwhelming evidence."
After the lawsuit was filed last month, Chavez defended his Latino roots, calling the lawsuit frivolous on Facebook. Chavez was the family name of his biological father, but Lodge adopted his step-father's name "Lodge" at an earlier age after his mother remarried.
"I'm very proud of my heritage and my ethnicity and nobody can take who I am away from me," Lodge told local TV station KABC.