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La Jolla Planners resolve election ties with coin flips

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LJCPA candidates, trustees and supporters attend the special meeting, March 28 at the Rec Center to hear the board election results.
Ashley Mackin-Solomon

Following a complex La Jolla Community Planning Association (LJCPA) election that resulted in a two-way tie and three-way tie in early March, a special meeting was held March 28 to break the ties and announce election results.

14 candidates ran for 10 seats; 6 three-year terms, 1 two-year term, and 3 one-year term. But during the election, two “questionable” votes were cast and two ties were discovered, and a mechanism to resolve these issues was not immediately available. Details on what constituted a “questionable” vote were not specified.

Following the election, LJCPA’s president, vice president, election sub-committee members and San Diego Planning Department staff met with the City Attorney’s office to find a solution.

Presiding over the special meeting, San Diego senior planner Marlon Pangilinan explained: “We determined that should the election result in tie votes, the City Attorney’s office be informed and consulted prior to the announcement of the election results. So we did that.”

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San Diego senior planner Marlon Pangilinan reads the methodology for breaking the LJCPA ties, as recommended by the San Diego City Attorney.
Ashley Mackin-Solomon

“The City Attorney’s office stated, that while it’s possible that the votes in question were the reason for the tie votes for those particular candidates, it is also possible they were not a factor at all. The options provided by the City Attorney’s office were to either use the tie-breaker procedure in the bylaws — there actually is a procedure regarding tie votes we were able to identify — or repeat the election.”

Pangilinan explained that the LJCPA provision for breaking ties is a coin toss to determine the winner.

“Based on the advice received … the tie-breaker procedure contained in the bylaws is being used to resolve the (ties) tonight,” he said.

From there, outgoing LJCPA chair Bob Steck read the determined results and moved forward with the tie-breaking protocol.

He said the following top vote-getters will all serve in three-year terms: Glen Rasmussen with 55 votes, Dave Ish with 53 votes, Mike Costello with 51 votes, Nancy Manno with 47 votes, Kathleen Neil with 42 votes, and Dan Courtney with 41 votes.

“Then we had our first tie between Tony Crisafi and Jim Fitzgerald at 40 votes each,” he said. “The reason it is a little tricky is the results will determine who will get a two-year term and who will get a one-year term.”

The tie was resolved via a coin toss – in which Fitzgerald earned a two-year term and Crisafi won a one-year term.

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LJCPA trustee Patrick Ahern, tasked with flipping the coin to break the ties, shows off the quarter he will use.
Ashley Mackin-Solomon

“Now, the second tie,” Steck said as he cleared his throat, “is a little trickier.” It is between Eamon Callahan, John Fremdling and Greg Jackson, who all earned 39 votes.

Two of them will serve a one-year term and the other will be “sitting on the bench and, hopefully, will run again,” Steck said.

Callahan and Jackson were in attendance, and current LJCPA trustee Diane Kane stood in as a proxy for Fremding. Trustee Patrick Ahern flipped a coin and Jackson and Fremdling called correctly and earned a seat.

The remaining candidates did not earn enough votes. There were also three write-ins, but none garnered enough votes to be considered.

LJCPA members are charged with making recommendations to the City Council, Planning Commission, City staff and other governmental agencies on land- use matters — specifically concerning the preparation of, adoption of, implementation of, or amendment to, the City’s General Plan or a land-use plan when it relates to the La Jolla Community Plan boundaries. The LJCPA also advises on other land-use matters as requested by the City or other governmental agency.

The 10 elected trustees will be seated and officers will be elected at the 6 p.m. Thursday, April 4 meeting at the Rec Center, 615 Prospect St. lajollacpa.org