UPDATE: After press time on March 16, the ballot recount had ended, and City Clerk Robert Copeland was officially the third candidate to fill the final spot on the Signal Hill City Council. Candidate Keir Jones conceded on his Facebook page on Thursday, as well.
The headline has also been changed to reflect the final result.
The original story can be found down below.
By: Denny Cristales
Official election results on Thursday morning at City Hall showed that incumbents Lori Woods and Edward Wilson and City Clerk Robert Copeland were voted on as members of the Signal Hill City Council– with one vote difference between Copeland and candidate Keir Jones– but a discrepancy found later leaves Copeland’s status up in the air, as of press time.
At 11am, a representative of Martin & Chapman counted more than 250 ballots that included vote-by-mail and all provisionals postmarked on March 7. The results of that morning indicated that Copeland had won by one vote.
On Thursday afternoon, however, staff conducted a hand-verbal count of one precinct– Discovery Well Park– as a test to ensure and verify the accuracy of the machine count that took place that morning, the results of which showed a discrepancy. As a result, the City announced it would do another hand count.
Just before press time, City staff told the Signal Tribune that a final hand-verbal recount was about to begin.
Measure F, a citizen’s initiative that would have instituted a 10-percent tax on monetary transactions for medical-marijuana facilities in Signal Hill, did not pass, with 605 “no” votes and 534 “yes” votes. The ballot error found in the afternoon is believed to not cause a significant change in the Measure F vote totals.
Official vote standings as of Thursday morning’s ballot count showed 596 votes for Woods, 560 votes for Wilson, 534 votes for Copeland, 533 votes for Jones, 364 votes for City Treasurer Larry Blunden, 350 votes for Maria Harris, 329 votes for Carol Churchill, 274 votes for Thomas Benson and 95 votes for Jason Aula.
“I think it’s great,” Copeland told the Signal Tribune after the announcement on Thursday morning, before the ballot error had been discovered that afternoon. “I’m excited for the opportunity. I’m excited that all the voters supported me. It’s kind of unfortunate that it was this close, but I guess that’s the way it happens in an election like this in a small city, with people really in-tune. I’m just hoping I can satisfy the people who voted for me now.”
Copeland maintained his lead over Jones by one vote, the first time such an outcome has occurred since the 2007 Signal Hill City Council election, when then-Mayor Larry Forester won by one vote after being
down by nine prior to the counting of additional ballots.
Jones refused to comment at City Hall on Thursday morning. As of that afternoon’s recount, there’s a potentiality that Jones may sneak into the third council spot.
Wilson congratulated Woods and Copeland on their apparent victories in an interview Thursday morning, and he was happy with the community involvement.
“I’m always pleased and honored that the residents and the voters have put their trust in me,” Wilson said. “This is the sixth time. It’s re-affirmation that the city is moving in the right direction […] I want to congratulate all the candidates who ran for their commitment to the city, because I think it’s important to have that commitment. If we don’t have that, then we start to denigrate, and I always want people active in our city. The more people who are active in our city, the better.”
Woods said she was grateful to the voters who gave her another term on the city council.
“It feels great,” she said. “It feels really good. I’ve got a lot of things I want to keep accomplishing, I want to continue to do […] That vote of confidence they placed in me– I called it a vote of their trust and an investment in me– I hope to provide a really good return on that investment.”
Kim Boles, deputy city clerk, said there were a total of 1,432 ballots, which is a 20-percent voter turnout.