Council seat undecided
by Lenny Roberts
Disappointed yet optimistic. That's how Ojai City Council
candidate Bruce Roland summed it up the day after he finished
fourth out of six contestants for the three available seats on
Ojai's governing board.
"I guess I'm not going to Disneyland," he said.
But is he really out of the race? Only time will tell - specifically
the time it takes for the Ventura Registrar of Voters Office
to count absentee and provisional ballots, which they have set
at Nov. 26.
Roland garnered 1,016 votes, or 17.2 percent of those who cast
their ballots in Tuesday's general election, 235 votes behind
front-runner Mayor Pro Tem Joe Devito, 190 behind Councilman
David Bury, and a scant 10 votes, or .2 percent, in back of first-time
candidate Carol Smith, a registered nurse and supporter of defeated
Measure C, the traffic initiative, and opponent of the city's
approval of the Los Arboles condominium project.
Roland's disappointment comes not from finishing in fourth place,
but for the voters not associating his candidacy with his opposition
to Measure C. His optimism stems from the delay in counting approximately
400 absentee ballots that may or may not have been received by
Tuesday's 8 p.m. deadline.
"I am optimistic, just because so many people have told
me that they voted for me on
an absentee ballot," he said.
He said if he is indeed a fourth-place finisher in this election,
he doubts he would run again, because, "I don't know if
there are enough people in the city who are ready for brutal
Nellie Kamradt, deputy clerk in the Registrar of Voters Office,
said out of the 820 absentee ballots requested, 455 were counted
as part of the voting total. No one, however, actually knows
how many of the remaining 365 that were requested made it to
the government center by Tuesday's deadline. The majority of
the outstanding ballots, which will be counted sometime before
the county's official certification Nov. 26, may have been requested
by those in the military or college, according to Carlon Strobel,
Ojai City clerk.
"As long as the absentee ballots were received by the county
on time, they will count," Strobel said. But since they
won't be certified by the county until the 26th, I have recommended
that the council be dark on 26th. Dec. 10 would be the first
meeting with the new members."
The City Council then has option of accepting or challenging
the county's certification.
Kamradt explained that all absentee ballots that were received
were counted through Saturday and included in the voting tabulation.
"As of this morning, we have 30,000 left to be counted,
which includes the provisional ballots, meaning, among other
things, that if someone moved within the county without re-registering,
we allow them to vote, and if verified, we will count that vote,"
Kamradt said, adding that there should be an update with new
numbers released Monday.
Taking time from his job as an auto mechanic, Roland, who finished
third behind Council members Sue Horgan and Rae Hanstad when
he last ran in 2000, said jokingly, "I called Rae last night
and told her to stay away from where they were counting the votes,
because last time, I went to bed in the lead. Someone said I
was leading this time until the 8th precinct weighed in. Either
way, I knew I'd be at work today breaking my knuckles."
He questions the reasoning behind taking so much time to count
the absentee ballots, inasmuch as there is a lot at stake.
"They probably don't count them ahead of time so that the
information doesn't leak out. But for the sake of running the
city, they need to know. Three weeks seems like a little long.
Give 'em to me and Carol (Smith); we'll count 'em now."
Ojai fared well in overall voting, where 2,515, or 52.8 percent
of its 4,767 registered voters turned out, as compared to 35.9
© 2002 The Ojai Valley News
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