The Tribune (SLO) (Sunday) - - Front Page - BY NICK WIL­SON nwil­son@thetri­bune­

The vote for the Los Osos CSD board may need to be done again due to a cler­i­cal er­ror on the bal­lot.

The San Luis Obispo County Clerk-Recorder’s Of­fice made an ap­par­ent cler­i­cal er­ror that could force a spe­cial elec­tion to fill three seats on the Los Osos Com­mu­nity Ser­vices District Board of Di­rec­tors, said Clerk-Recorder Tommy Gong.

Gong said Fri­day in a phone in­ter­view that the county’s at­tor­ney is look­ing into the mat­ter, but his feel­ing is that a di­rec­tor’s seat in the Nov. 6 elec­tion was mis­tak­enly des­ig­nated on the bal­lot as a two-year term and should have been iden­ti­fied as a four-year term.

The race in­cluded two open four-year seats and a third two-year seat, for which in­cum­bent Chris­tine M. Wo­mack ran un­op­posed.

Wo­mack re­placed Jon-Erik Storm, who left the board April, as an ap­pointed di­rec­tor, ac­cord­ing to the Los Osos CSD web­site. Storm told The Tri­bune by phone that a fam­ily mem­ber had health prob­lems that he had to at­tend to, and thus stepped down.

Gong said that, un­der the elec­tion pro­ce­dure, if an ap­pointee fills a va­cated seat within the first two years of a de­parted di­rec­tor’s four-year term, then in the next elec­tion that per­son runs for a two-year seat to ef­fec­tively com­plete the four-year cy­cle.

In this case, Storm had served more than two years, and thus Wo­mack is re­quired to run for a four-year term to start the new cy­cle.

“We still have to look into this fur­ther, but I would say it was ab­so­lutely a cler­i­cal er­ror by my of­fice,” Gong said. “There was no con­spir­acy or wrong­do­ing here, just a mis­take.”

Gong said his of­fice es­tab­lished the Los Osos CSD po­si­tion for the twoyear seat, and no­body no­ti­fied his of­fice about the po­ten­tial mis­take un­til about a week ago.

Gong said a spe­cial elec­tion likely will need to be held in late Jan­uary, if it’s con­firmed the mis­take was made, open­ing the race to all can­di­dates to fill three seats of four-year terms.

On Nov. 6, four can­di­dates ran for the two avail­able four-year terms, with Chuck Ce­sena earn­ing the most votes with 33.9 per­cent, fol­lowed by Matthew D. Four­croy at 28.3 per­cent, Stephen Best at 27.3 per­cent and Craig Bal­ti­more at 10.2 per­cent of the vote.

But those votes could be moot, and each can­di­date, in­clud­ing Wo­mack, would have to run again, Gong said.

“I would ven­ture to guess that we could do a spe­cial elec­tion (at the end of Jan­uary),” Gong said. “We’d need to work with a bal­lot printer, so it would be an all-mail elec­tion and sent to the vot­ers in early Jan­uary.”

Gong said that, if a spe­cial elec­tion is held to cor­rect the er­ror, his of­fice would ab­sorb the cost or it would come from the County’s Gen­eral Fund.

Reached by phone Fri­day, Wo­mack said she hadn’t heard of the mixup but planned to run if a

spe­cial elec­tion is held.

Wo­mack, who has lived in Los Osos for more than 10 years, is the for­mer pres­i­dent of South Bay Women’s Net­work, she told The Tri­bune. Prior to be­com­ing a board di­rec­tor, she served on the CSD’s Fi­nance Ad­vi­sory Com­mit­tee.

“I will strive to keep wa­ter rates low, but just high enough to be able to buy equip­ment and fix prob­lems as they arise,” Wo­mack wrote via email.

Though Gong has de­nied any wrong­do­ing or in­ter­fer­ence Fri­day, Best told The Tri­bune in an email Thurs­day that he be­lieved im­proper in­flu­ence oc­curred.

“I will file a com­plaint with the District At­tor­ney’s Of­fice no mat­ter how the vote count fin­ishes,” Best said. “I am blow­ing a whis­tle on the County’s in­ter­fer­ence, ma­nip­u­la­tion and cor­rup­tion in Los Osos gov­er­nance.”

Mean­while, Storm said that he be­lieves the mis­take needs to be in­ves­ti­gated to see what went wrong and en­sure the le­git­i­macy of the town’s only gov­ern­ment.

He said that dur­ing his roughly four years on the board, he and other di­rec­tors worked to sta­bi­lize the CSD af­ter years of con­tro­versy and dis­trust over the plan­ning of the sewer sys­tem (which ul­ti­mately was taken over by the county and built) and a stretch of mul­ti­ple gen­eral man­agers.

“What will end up hap­pen­ing is our only gov­ern­ment in Los Osos is go­ing to be clouded in il­le­git­i­macy” Storm said. “Our goal was to find sta­bil­ity. This will set off a lot of con­flict. What­ever ends up hap­pen­ing with this, it will create a cloud of il­le­git­i­macy and the CSD is our only self-gov­er­nance.”

Nick Wil­son: 805-781-7922, @Nick­Wil­sonTrib

Chris­tine Wo­mack

Chuck Ce­sena

Matthew Four­croy

Stephen Best

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