UPDATED 4:01 p.m. Wednesday, April 11
By Leon Worden/SCVNEWS.com and Carol Rock/KHTS AM 1220
Bob Kellar sailed to his easiest victory ever in his bid for re-election to the Santa Clarita City Council on Tuesday, while TimBen Boydston turned Mayor Laurie Ender out of office with a strong showing in election-day balloting.
Ender, the first sitting mayor to be defeated in Santa Clarita’s nearly 25-year history, led Boydston by roughly 200 votes when all 10,743 absentee or “vote by mail” ballots that came in over the past three weeks were tabulated. But Boydston pulled ahead in precinct voting, indicating he came on strong with voters at the end of the race.
Kellar finished well ahead of the 5-person pack with 7,045 votes. Boydston garnered 5,723, followed by Ender with 5,135.
Kellar’s first-place finish marks a departure. First elected to the council in 2000, he finished second in a race for two seats in each of his previous elections.
Ender served just one term on the council.
Challengers Ed Colley and Jon Hatami finished the race with 4,237 and 3,742 votes, respectively.
Kellar and Boydston will be sworn into their four-year council terms later this month.
As usual, absentee ballots outnumbered election-day precinct votes. The last time precinct ballots outnumbered absentees was 1998. In the last council election in 2010, more than twice as many absentee ballots were cast than election-day ballots – 10,052 versus 4,895. The exact number of Tuesday’s election-day ballots is not known, but the proportions are similiar.
Boydston served on the City Council from December 2006 to April 2008. He was appointed to fill a vacancy that was created when Cameron Smyth was elected to the Assembly. Boydston ran for City Council in 2010, finishing fifth in a race for three seats. He also ran for county supervisor when Santa Clarita Valley residents tried to form their own “Canyon County” in the 1970s.
Kellar is a retired LAPD officer, former city planning commissioner and an active Realtor. Ender was a television producer and served on the city’s Parks Commission prior to her election to the council. Boydston is executive director of the Canyon Theatre Guild. Colley is a teacher in the William S. Hart Union High School District and an elected member of the Castaic Lake Water Agency board. Hatami is a deputy district attorney.
The numbers will change slightly when all provisional ballots are counted – such as “late absentee” ballots delivered at the last moment, and ballots cast by voters at the wrong precinct – but not enough to change the outcome of the election.
Just before reading the final vote count, City Manager Ken Pulskamp explained that all the ballots will not be counted tonight.
“There are still 792 ballots that will not be counted tonight; of these, there are 216 provisional ballots are used to record a vote when there is a question as to the voter’s eligibility. The City Clerk and County Registrar will sort it out and verify eligibility. There are also 576 ballots that are vote by mail. We were not able to verify signatures on those ballots. Provisional mail ballots will take a couple of days to verify these will be sent to county registrar. Vote By Mail ballots will be verified by both county and city. Then a second count of provisional and mail ballots will be done. The final results will probably not be in until next week.”
Boydston spent Tuesday night watching returns come in at a packed Route 66 Classic Grill in Canyon Country, where the tone definitely was celebratory.
“I feel great,” he said as the party wound down. “My campaign team was incredible, they worked so many long hours and they are such terrifically talented people.”
Asked if he had any top priorities, Boydston said that he hoped to bring people of the city back to City Hall.
“One of the things I would like to accomplish right off the bat is move public comment to the beginning of the meeting. Because, well, that’s what we’re there for, to listen to the people, so the people should be first.”
His grassroots campaigning included his wife, Ingrid and daughter Analyn standing with him at Bouquet Junction waving signs to remind people to vote Tuesday afternoon.
Asked if he found a difference in previous campaigns and this one, he said there was one thing that stood out in his mind.
“I think the difference is that the number of people in Santa Clarita that believe the council was not responsive grew to such a point and number that they decided to put someone else on the council so they would be listened to.”
Boydston campaigned closely with top vote-getter Bob Kellar, who called him after the final numbers were in.
“I didn’t have a chance to talk with Bob yet, I was in the middle of a speech when he called, but I got a wonderful message,” he said. “I’m so looking forward to working with Bob, I’ve admired all the things that Bob has done for the people of Santa Clarita, the fact that over the last two years, Bob has been the one who has listen to the people. I never agree 100 per cent with Bob, but I know Bob works for the people and to be able to work with Bob is exactly what I wanted. That is the joy. I think between the two of us, we’re going to take Santa Clarita back for the people.”
“Even though we’re a growing city, there are some things in which you should still be a small town. When it comes to serving the people, you should never lose that,” he concluded.
After any election, there are procedures that have to be followed to make things official. According to the City Clerk’s office, the City of Santa Clarita’s 2012 election certification will be agendized for the April 24, 2012 City Council meeting. Prior to that date, the City Clerk’s office will be completing several tasks related to certifying the election.
Today, the Clerk’s office sent copies of its 216 provisional ballots to the Los Angeles County Registrar for verification of signatures and voter registration in the City of Santa Clarita. Provisional ballots are cast in person but are considered provisional when the voters name does not appear on the list at the precinct. If the voter is indeed a registered voter in the City, has not otherwise voted, and their signature is validated, the vote will be counted.
The next order of business is verifying signatures for the 575 vote by mail or “absentee” ballots. These signatures will be cross-checked on the City’s computer with the County’s database.
The City Clerk’s office will then work on completing its canvass. This includes a public count on April 18 at 10 a.m. for counting the verified provisional and vote by mail ballots that were turned into the polls on Election Day and subsequently verified through the ballot counter. This will be done in public in the City Council Chambers. Finally, the City will complete the process of hand-tallying one precinct, as required by law.
The next City Council meeting will be held on Tuesday, April 24, 2012 at 6 p.m. Upon adoption of the resolution by the Council for the 2012 council election, the two with the highest number of votes will be sworn in at that meeting.