Monday, November 10, 2008

Clayton City Council election results could change

CLAYTON — Some 764 ballots cast by Clayton voters — 657 absentee and 107 provisional — remained uncounted as of Friday and could change the outcome of the City Council election.

Incumbent Julie Pierce, a 16-year council veteran and top vote-getter with 3,258, will retain her first-place finish.

However, there is a 189-vote spread between community activist Howard Geller, who had snagged the third and last council seat as of Wednesday morning, and the fourth-highest vote-getter, Dan Richardson, a retired Walnut Creek public services director.

"Richardson was actually ahead when we had only absentee ballots results early Tuesday night, so if that trend were to continue with these new absentee ballots, we could see these two gentlemen switch places," said Gary Napper, Clayton city manager.

What's more, there was, as of Wednesday morning, a 336-vote difference between Geller and Keith Haydon, the fifth-highest vote-getter.

Napper said that Geller and Joe Medrano, who was in second place as of Wednesday morning, could also switch places.

Geller, who is vacationing in the Florida, said he is trying not to think too much about it.

"What can you do?" he said. "It could change ... it would mean the person in fourth place would have to get about 200 more votes, and as they're counting these other ballots, you have to assume that I'll be getting votes, too. But it is what it is."

Napper said Steve AdvertisementWeir, Contra Costa registrar of voters, contacted him Friday morning with the news.

On Thursday, Weir's office reported there were about 35,000 uncounted Contra Costa ballots that had not yet been sorted by area — ballots that were mailed on Election Day at the last minute and provisional ballots from people who moved or didn't get polling information in the mail and then had to verify to workers at the polling place that they do, in fact, live in the city.

Eleven races across the county remain tight enough to garner attention from the elections office.

Weir said this is nothing out of the ordinary. "There are always ballots that can't be processed until after Election Day," he said.

In the county's tightest race, Hercules City Council candidate John Delgado held a 13-vote lead for the final seat on the board.

Weir said he plans to periodically update results on the county Web site ( and hopes to have most ballots counted by Thanksgiving. The final results must be certified and sent to the secretary of state by Dec. 2.

"We also have to remember that these ballots still need to be verified," Napper said. "It's not over until the last vote is counted. It's difficult — you've got the agony of election night, and now there's agony in the days after the election."

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