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Monday, March 10, 2014

Mailander: Irregularities Mar Sunland-Tujunga Neighborhood Council Election

Editor's Note: Neighborhood Council elections have been a controversial subject for some time, and the latest round of contests for the advisory panels have been no exception. From Silver Lake to Sherman Oaks to Chatsworth, many Councils are facing issues with notification, location changes, pseudo-slate mailers on the public dime and stakeholder eligibility questions. One of the elections held during Saturday's first round was in Sunland-Tujunga. Joseph Mailander offers this special report

Special to MayorSam's Sister City

Sunland-Tujunga's record turnout for Saturday's long anticipated Neighborhood Council election suddenly went sour late Saturday night as election results were leaked from the counting room to an operative in advance of being posted by any member of the Neighborhood Council, EmpowerLA, or City Clerk's office.

Nearly 700 residents and stakeholders participated in the election that was celebrated for its enthusiastic turnout but quickly became tarnished by reporting irregularities.

Late in the evening, voters lingering on various social media message boards, concerned about the outcome of the election, were shocked to observe not a Neighborhood Council or EmpowerLA representative but a local political operative first posting results to Facebook, in some cases even while the votes were being counted.

The same operative had previously pushed his own slate of endorsements for the election, and openly derided many challenger candidates.

"[I]f someone was observing from the designated area where those who signed in were to be seated, they could of [sic] texted him that information. The Poll Manager (Terrance), the Election IEA (Alisa) and myself were the only one privy to the overall vote tally until release to everyone. For the record, there was about 10-15 observers in the room," vote counter Scott Johnson said on Facebook.

Commissioner Lydia Grant, who was on hand for the counting, did not return phone calls or email
regarding the incident. EmpowerLA General Manager Grayce Liu also has not returned inquiries as of publication time.

Voters also encountered some irregularities earlier in the day as business and organizational stakeholders were told they were obliged to present documentation on organizational letterhead that they indeed worked or belong to an organization in Sunland-Tujunga.

No election materials printed in advance of the election specified this. Those who could not provide documentation on the spot were obliged to vote via provisional ballot and submit their documentation within three days time. The provisionals cast may affect the outcome of one race, for a Regional slot on the board, in which two candidates tied for the final seat.

The NC's president-elect, Mark Seigel, barely missed fetching half the total vote, receiving 332 of 676 votes cast.

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Blogger Red Spot in CD 14 said:

This is a non-story, period.

For someone (especially a person who was not on site) to say that there were irregularities during Saturday's STNC Elections, is a insult to the employees of Empower LA and to the NC Activists who gave of their time to ensure a fair process.

March 11, 2014 4:47 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

More nonsense from Mailander

March 11, 2014 7:15 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Scott, the activities of some of the NC members and their associates are not a reflection on the hard work and integrity of the volunteers or DONE staff. No one is commenting on your efforts. We in Sunland-Tujunga have consistently applauded your service.

March 17, 2014 3:04 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Oh, and with regard to "nonsense" about the STNC - as Paul Harvey used to say: "STAND BY FOR NEWS!"

March 17, 2014 3:04 PM  

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