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SLO County Clerk-Recorder suing woman who requested District 2 supervisor recount

The San Luis Obispo County clerk-recorder has filed a lawsuit against the woman who requested a manual recount of the District 2 supervisor election last year.
Posted at 4:14 PM, May 23, 2023

The San Luis Obispo County Clerk-Recorder has filed a lawsuit against the woman who requested a manual recount of the District 2 Supervisor election last year.

Bruce Gibson and Dr. Bruce Jones faced off for the county supervisor seat in November 2022.

Gibson, the incumbent, won with 52% of the votes, but a recount was requested by county resident Darcia Stebbens. She ended up terminating the request a little more than two weeks later.

"She did terminate the recount process and prior to the completion of the actual manual tally," Clerk-Recorder Elaina Cano said.

Stebbens is now facing a lawsuit filed on May 1, 2023, by Cano that claims, "The defendant owes $4,448.21."

"She had been paying her estimated daily deposit, but then that... those were just estimates, that's just a ballpark of this is what I think it's going to cost on this day to perform," Cano said.

The lawsuit states, "There is still a balance due based on actual costs related to the recount."

According to an invoice provided by the Clerk-Recorder's Office, the total cost for the District 2 recount was $52,325.74.

"Once we got that is when we gave her the initial remaining balance. She did come in and pay a partial amount of that and then it's the remainder that she still has not paid," Cano said.

In a statement, Stebbens told KSBY, "It's very simple, we paid an initial deposit of $16,995 plus estimated costs on a daily basis. Ms. Cano gave me a final 'true-up' amount of over $7,000. I had a question about the costs, asked for a breakdown of the amounts and county counsel indicated they were not required to provide a detailed invoice. Additionally, there were documents and 'relevant materials' the county has not provided, presumably we have already been charged for these."

"There is no provision in the law that requires us to provide her with a detailed list of exactly what the staff was doing each hour that was charged," Cano said, adding that her office issued at least three letters to Stebbens before resorting to a lawsuit.

Stebbens ended her statement to KSBY by saying, "I made a good faith payment of approximately $2,900 for all amounts I could determine were incurred prior and related to the last day when we halted the recount."

Cano says the outstanding balance from the District 2 recount is coming from the county's general fund.

"That is why the law says if there is somebody that wants to come forward and request the recount, it's their responsibility to pay for the actual costs that are incurred in conducting that and administering the recounts so that the taxpayers don't have to foot the bill for that," Cano said.

A court date for the lawsuit has been set for July 14, 2023.

The Clerk-Recorder's Office says Stebbens did pay the full cost of a previous recount she requested for the District 4 Supervisor election in last year's June primary. That recount did not change the results of the race.