Strobel, citizens back request to verify
final City Council vote tally is correct
By Logan Hall
The ongoing saga of the race for Ojai City Council continues as supporters of Lenny Klaif and a group of citizens led by Pat McPherson, including elected Councilwoman Carlon Strobel, have officially requested a recount of City Council votes.
The trouble began when Klaif noticed an irregularity in the polls after the election. County officials say they found a clerical error, fixed it and Klaif’s loss by four votes to Carol Smith was accurate. To those who signed the recount request, that’s not good enough.
“The results may be accurate,” said Strobel, “but I don’t feel confident about this. I see one candidate ahead by seven votes, then next day, the other candidate is 52 ahead. Every vote represents a citizen. We need to make sure everything is done properly.”
Klaif says he stands behind the decision of McPherson and the others. “There’s no question that they screwed up the vote,” he said. “These people don’t trust the explanations the county is giving.”
McPherson says that when he spoke with the county they assured him that they made adjustments after uncovering the error, and everything was OK. Like Strobel, McPherson isn’t relying on the county’s word. “They made a mistake and it was certified anyway,” he said. “It made me question everything they do.”
One of the problems facing the group is the inevitable cost of a recount. McPherson says an official recount could cost more than $15,000. The question that he has is whether or not the county will be willing to pay for it. “Here we are as citizens, and we’re having to request a recount and pay for the thing,” he said. “We are paying for someone else’s mistake. Everyone that signed for the recount thinks the county should pay for it.”
Strobel who has worked for the city for 20 years, 10 of that holding the position of city clerk, agrees with McPherson’s reasoning. “The county is being asked to do a voluntary recount,” she said. “We are their clients, and they need to stand by their product.”
McPherson further explained that this wasn’t personal. He wants to feel confident that the results have been reached without error. “In my opinion we didn’t have a fair election,” he said. “This is not a Carol vs. Len issue. The issue is about our election process. If we don’t fix this, no one can trust the results.”