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Sullivan to contest mayoral election results

By Staff | Nov 15, 2013


It’s not over until Mayor John Sullivan says it’s over or at least until a judge or Supervisor of Elections Sharon Harrington tells Sullivan it’s over.

Sullivan has filed a lawsuit for a recount, along with five of his supporters, alleging “certain inconsistencies and irregularities occurred which resulted in Marni Lin Sawicki being reported as the successful candidate and winning the election by the Election Canvassing Board,” the suit said.

Calls to Sullivan were not returned.

Among the other plaintiffs are former Cape Councilman Bill Deile and former mayoral candidate Davis Carr.

It is the first time in the city’s history that a local election has been contested.

The suit contends there were problems with signatures in absentee and mail-in ballots, misconduct by election officials and problems with access to and defects of the voting system.

“I urged the mayor to seek a recount because it was close and word was that the unions (employees, fire and police) were gunning for him and if someone was able to manipulate an election it would come from there,” Carr said.

Carr also said that any ballot where more than one person touches it, such as early voting, that would have to be looked at.

Sawicki, along with Sharon Harrington, Lee County Supervisor of Elections, are the defendants in the suit. Sawicki said as of Wednesday she had not been served papers. Each will have 10 days to respond.

Councilmember Rana Erbrick and City Clerk RebeccaVan Deutekom are also listed as defendants, as members of the canvassing board. Neither would comment, as this is now a litigious matter.

Harrington was also served Thursday and also declined to comment.

If and when Sawicki is served, she said it won’t be a surprise.

“It’s his prerogative. I fully expected it from him from what I’ve been hearing about him from the community,” Sawicki said. “Let’s just have the recount and be done with it.”

The vote was certified Friday, during which Sawicki picked up eight more votes.

Sullivan had 10 days to contest the result. Because he did not fall into the .50 percent threshold to trigger an automatic recount, he will pay a $1,000 deposit for the Lee County Supervisor of Election Office to conduct the recount, win or lose.

“That would cover legal expenses, staff overtime and any additional people we would have to bring in, otherwise it would take us days,” Harrington said. “If it isn’t used, it would be refunded.”

Harrington said this is the first mayoral race she has had contested. There have been others for county commission, school board and judge, but those have usually been within the .5 percent margin to trigger the automatic recount.

“We don’t usually have a lot of people who go to court to file to get a judge to decide. The usually accept the law and say ‘OK, fine,'” Harrington said.

Sawicki, who has spoken wither attorney, said Sullivan would have to send his case to the Circuit Court judge and, assuming the judge hears it and the recount goes in Sullivan’s favor, they would have to petition the governor so he could go through the process of removing Sawicki from office.

Sawicki said she was told the process goes fairly quickly, as it is voter related.

Sawicki said it won’t stop her plans. She still expects to be sworn in as mayor on Monday.

“It’s business as usual until it’s not. I’m about moving the city forward, that’s what the people are looking for,’ Sawicki said. “I want to be in the news for the right reasons and for celebrating our city and not for being a circus.”

Sullivan lost to Marni Sawicki by 121 votes, or .76 percent, out of 15,923 votes cast.