H-SANTA MARIA

Dec 5, 2012 8:37 PM by Cameron Polom, KSBY News

A lot up in the air in Santa Maria city council race

There's a new twist tonight in our continuing coverage of the race for Santa Maria City Council, reinforcing the old adage that every vote counts.
Santa Barbara County elections officials certified the results of the November 6th elections Tuesday, but there are still questions about how the new city council will shape up.
Only two votes separate candidates Bob Orach and Etta Waterfield.
Making it even more complicated is the fact that three voters were apparently issued ballots that didn't include the city council race at all.
A few different things can happen from here. If Waterfield chooses to, she can ask for a recount, or file a lawsuit with the court.
Both options can be extremely expensive for candidates.
Another developing story line here is the vacant seat left behind by councilwomen Alice Patino who was elected mayor.
Both Waterfield and mayoral candidate and outgoing council member Mike Cordero hope to land that seat.

"I think that the numbers are convincing enough, two votes shy, ninety two hundred people voted for me, do you deny those people their voice," says Waterfield.

"The least interruption to the council would be to appoint somebody who's on it, and is up to speed with everything the council is currently involved with," says Cordero.

Waterfield says she has no plans to challenge the election results at this point and is optimistic she will be appointed to the Patino seat when it opens in two weeks.
Appointment is just one of the options to fill the open seat.
If they do choose that option, they must appoint someone on December 18th or open up applications for the seat and hold a special election in January.
That special election could cost taxpayers up to 200-thousand dollars.

According to elections officials, there has been a vacant seat situation like this four times in the past. Three of the those times the seat was given to the third highest vote getter, in this case that would be Waterfield and the other time was opened up to all applicants.

If Waterfield chooses to challenge the results, she'll have five days to ask for a recount and twenty-eight days to file a lawsuit with the courts.

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