SJ Mercury News: Recount names a new winner in Vallejo mayor ra

From: Arthur Keller <voting_at_kellers_dot_org>
Date: Fri Dec 07 2007 - 10:12:27 CST

Recount names a new winner in Vallejo mayor race
By Sarah Rohrs
Vallejo Times-Herald
Article Launched: 12/06/2007 09:07:11 PM PST

VALLEJO - In another twist to Vallejo's mayoral race, Osby Davis won
the contested battle Thursday with three votes - less than two days
after Gary Cloutier had been sworn in to the city's top political

The four-day recount resulted in a loss of eight votes for Cloutier.
He had been ahead by five.

The final vote tally was Davis with 5,718 votes and Cloutier with
5,715. The new tally came exactly one month after voters went to the

Davis is expected to take the oath of office at the City Council
meeting Tuesday, and Cloutier will remain mayor until then, said City
Attorney Fred Soley. The council will likely certify the county
results before Davis is sworn in, Soley added.

"It's awesome, unbelievable, and I'm really excited," Davis said,
shortly after learning he had won.

Cloutier said Thursday evening he and his campaign will evaluate
their options over the next several days, including a legal
challenge. County officials said the next effort to overturn the
results would have to occur in court.

"This has been an unusual election in an unusual time for Vallejo,"
Cloutier said. "I believe the extreme closeness of the election and
the recount results warrant very close scrutiny. At this time, we are
in the process of exploring our options and we expect to make a
determination in the next few days whether a challenge is

Solano County election officials said the new results can be traced
to vote changes from six challenged ballots, and two ballots that had
been counted twice by election machines. Registrar of Voters Ira
Rosenthal attributed Cloutier's 8-vote loss to "mechanical error" in
the counting machines.

Rosenthal added he was surprised the recount overturned Cloutier's
previous lead. Previously, his Assistant Registrar of Voters Lindsey
McWilliams said he had never had a recount change the outcome.

"We went through every ballot to make sure they were counted,"
Rosenthal said. Observers from all four mayoral candidates
participated in the manual recount in which 12 election workers
counted, by hand, all 19,733 ballots.

The manual ballot tally resulted in 10 fewer valid ballots than the
machine count, Rosenthal said. He attributed the discrepancy to
ballot misfeeds.

McWilliams said there were 61 challenged ballots, which he and
Rosenthal reviewed and reached a consensus on what the vote should be.

Davis spent $8,490 on the recount, but will be reimbursed his costs
since the outcome was in his favor.

Manual recounts are "always likely to show some difference in voting
results because human observers can make judgments about voters'
intent that electronic counting machines cannot," Rosenthal said, in
a prepared statement.

Davis, an attorney and former county supervisor, will become the
first African-American mayor of Vallejo.

Cloutier, meanwhile, had received statewide attention as the first
openly gay mayor in the Bay Area. Controversy over his Nov. 18 public
intoxication arrest in Palm Springs also made recent headlines.

Thursday's recount results cap a month of surprises in the mayor
race. First came a tie on election night, then Davis was up by one
vote, then fell behind by as many as 52 and as few as five votes as
more absentee and provisional ballots were counted.

Davis asked for a recount Nov. 29 when county-certified results Nov.
24 gave Cloutier the edge with five votes.

But, doubt and uncertainty over the election results was not in the
air as a joyous throng of supporters greeted Davis Thursday afternoon
before he conducted a press conference. He kissed and hugged numerous
supporters, and smiled, waived signs and cheered.

"I want, first and foremost, to give praise, honor and glory to my
Lord and savior Jesus Christ. This campaign was never about me and it
never has been. It is about the things my God wishes me do in this
wonderful city of Vallejo," Davis said.

Surrounded by his family, Davis said Thursday Cloutier had not
mentioned a legal challenge when both candidates were informed of the
recount results. He did say Cloutier congratulated him.

Davis said he is "not concerned" about a legal challenge, and added
he has never wavered in his belief he would be mayor. He also pledged
to help unify people, and would work hard to face the many difficult
challenges facing the city, such as the budget deficit, and
increasing public safety costs, and improving schools.

"We have confidence and we are excited about the opportunity to serve
the community," Davis said. He added he would work hard with the
citizens and city staff and that Vallejoans would see improvements in
their city in a year. As a leader, he said he would strive to bring
people together.

Davis also praised Cloutier for the professionalism he showed during
the campaign and recount. Likewise, Cloutier thanked Davis for the
"courteous conduct he has shown during the election and the recount."

Cloutier supporter Mike Haworth said he was shocked by the results.
"It makes you wonder how accurate the count is," he said.

Echoing a sentiment offered numerous times throughout the campaign,
Haworth said a city charter change is needed to require a run-off
election if a mayoral candidate does not get more than 50 percent of
the vote.

Times-Herald staff writers J.M. Brown, Andrea Wolf, Sara Stroud and
City Editor Mary Leahy contributed to this report.

Arthur M. Keller, Ph.D., 3881 Corina Way, Palo Alto, CA  94303-4507
tel +1(650)424-0202, fax +1(650)424-0424
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