Incumbents dominate local council elections

by Steven Felschundneff |

A week after the midterm elections, most votes have been tallied and, at least here in Claremont, the results are pretty much set.

Claremont voters reelected all three incumbent city council members and Claremont Unified School District Board of Education President Steven Llanusa; passed Measure CT; and chose challenger and political newcomer Jeff Hanlon over 19-year incumbent Brian Bowcock to represent them for the District III seat on Three Valleys Municipal Water District’s Board of Directors.

As of 3 p.m. Wednesday, Mayor Jed Leano had received 1,399 votes, 58.22%, defeating District 4 challenger Aundré Johnson, who had 1,004. In District 2, Mayor Pro tem Ed Reece retained his seat with 1,017 votes, 54.24%, beating former City Council member Peter Yao who received 858 votes. Council member Jennifer Stark was easily reelected with 1,256 votes, 75.12%, over Maura Carter at 416 votes in District 3.

According to Claremont city clerk Shelley Desautels, as of Wednesday evening, 70 votes remain to be counted in District 2, 83 in District 3 and 68 in District 4.

Measure CT, which will authorize the City Council to tax cannabis businesses if and when they are allowed to open in Claremont, easily won 6,570 to 4,075, which means 61.72% of voters said yes to the tax.

In the race for Claremont Unified School District Board of Education Trustee Area 4, Board President Steven Llanusa received 1,568 votes, 54.67%, edging out challenger Aaron Peterson, who had 1,300.

In the only local race where an incumbent lost, Jeff Hanlon received 10,007 votes, 52%, to become the next Division III member of the Three Valleys Municipal Water District’s Board of Directors. Hanlon unseated 19-year incumbent Brian Bowcock who got 6,313 votes, 32.8%. A second challenger, Javier Aguilar, received 2.919 votes, 15.17%.

A handful of COURIER readers asked recently about the 338 ballots in District 4 that were sent to voters without the option of voting for City Council, and if that error had affected the outcome of the council race.

The snafu was discovered shortly after mail-in ballots began arriving in mid-October and was immediately brought to the attention of both Claremont and county officials.

Within 24 hours of receiving the news, the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder, County Clerk reprinted and mailed replacement ballots. Affected voters also received either an email or a phone call from the county clerk, provided that their personal information was in the county’s files. Bevin Handel, Claremont’s public information officer also posted alerts on the city’s website and through its social media.

If anyone sent the first vote-by-mail ballot in before the corrected one arrived, those ballots were flagged and held only to be counted if that voter failed to send the corrected one by Election Day. According to the county clerk, two people sent in the first ballot and both of those voters eventually returned the corrected second ballot.

“There was no impact to the outcome of the contest based on an accounting of the returned ballots and votes cast in the district. Contingency plans were put in place to ensure when our office received either or both ballot(s), they would be processed and tallied correctly,” according to Mike Sanchez of the County Clerk’s office.

Finally, it’s mathematically impossible for the error to have changed the outcome in the District 4 race because Mayor Jed Leano won reelection by more than 338 votes.


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