The April 10 election on Catalina Island could be described as the longest cliffhanger in recent political history as 113 “provisional” ballots kept candidates, supporters and the community in suspense long after the balloting was complete.
Although it appears as though incumbent Mayor Anni Marshall will win another four-year term, she and other candidates leading the race were hesitant to declare victory as election officials worked to ‘certify’ the provisional ballots.”
“There is nothing unusual about it,” said Devin Thompson, Senior Administrative Assistant to Acting City Clerk Denise Radde. She said Avalon officials were working with L.A. County election officials to clear the ballots, which she said had been brought to city hall on election day.
Observers say voting on Catalina Island does differ in that people who own property on the island sometimes come to vote and the transient nature of the island sometimes makes it hard to confirm voter identities.
City officials said the election results may not be certified until Friday or maybe even Monday, although they reserved the right to declare victors as soon as identities of the provisional votes could be verified.
Including the 113 provision ballots, 1,061 voters cast ballots in the election, or approximately 57% of the vote.
Of the votes already counted, Marshall led challenger Bob Kennedy by 433 to 352, or 46% to 37% of the vote.
Although mathematically possible for Kennedy, observers said it is improbable that he will gain enough votes to unseat Marshall.
“Here we go,” said Marshall, who said she was “confident,” but in no position yet to declare victory. “If election officials are not ready to call it, neither should I,” she said. Marshall said she was looking forward to a new four-year term as mayor—if indeed she won.
In addition to the mayor’s office, voters were electing two city Council members. From the results of the voting, it appears as Cinde MacGugen-Cassidy was well on her way to re-election, leading all council candidates with 426 votes. She too, determined it was too early to declare victory.
In a race literally too close to call, two challengers, both of whom had previous roles in Avalon city government, Pam Albers and Steve Hoefs, were separated by a mere six votes. Albers, a former city attorney, collected 351 votes while Steve Hoefs, a former city manager, landed in striking distance with 345 votes. In this race, the provisional ballots could have an impact.
Incumbent Council member Joe Sampson got 175 votes, former mayor Ralph Morrow received 113 votes, and political newcomer Mark Alft received 85 votes. When duly elected, the new officials are slated to take office as early as April 17.