A former Los Osos Community Services District (CSD) board candidate claims that the San Luis Obipso County clerk and the CSD deprived him and the community of a fair election due to a clerical error.
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- CHALLENGING ELECTIONS A former Los Osos Community Services director candidate is suing the district and the SLO County Clerk for allegedly not administering a fair election.
Stephen Best formally contested the election in a document filed with the SLO County Clerk-Recorder's Office on Dec. 28. The document—which names district board President Vickie Milledge, General Manager Rene Osborne, appointed director Christine Womack, elected director Mathew Fourcroy, former director Jon-Erick Strom, and County Clerk-Recorder Tommy Gong—alleges that then-candidate Womack requested a special term in order to run unopposed in the Nov. 6, 2018, election.
"The point of my lawsuit is not that I want to get appointed, it's because we want to have a fair, honest, and transparent election in Los Osos," Best told New Times.
According to the contestation, Womack requested a ballot condition from the SLO County clerk's office to change her candidacy from a four-year term to a two-year term. It alleges that Womack made the request a day before the candidate filing deadline on Aug. 10, 2018, and ensured herself an unopposed ballot position.
The document states that according to the election code, a candidate who's running unopposed on a ballot is automatically appointed to the position and the election for that seat is canceled.
The majority of voters, it alleges, did not know that Womack was a candidate because she was not on the ballot. Her unopposed candidacy took one seat off the ballot, leaving four candidates to race for two open seats instead of three.
At a Nov. 20 SLO County Board of Supervisors meeting, Gong asked county supervisors to withdraw Womack's appointment to the district seat. All of the district's candidates should have been on the ballot for four-year terms, Gong told county supervisors, calling it a clerical error that occurred because Womack filled a seat vacated by former director Jon Erik-Storm, who resigned.
The complaint alleges that the Los Osos CSD board president Milledge, General Manager Osborne, and staff knew about the ballot error but didn't say anything. Chuck Cesena and Matthew Fourcroy were elected to the two open seats left on the ballot, with Best coming in third. Best is calling for Womack to be banned from filling the seat and for the district to have a fair process in choosing another candidate.
"The whole process was stolen from us. I want to have her removed and have the people of Los Osos have a say in how the next director will be chosen," Best said. Δ