Irked supervisors will be asked to fund special elections

The county’s chief election official will ask the Board of Supervisors next week to come up with $289,000 to cover the costs of a special election June 22 — one the supervisors say should not be taking place at all.

County Clerk-Recorder Julie Rodewald wrote in a staff report that the actual cost is between $450,000 and $500,000. However, she says she is able to cover the rest without asking for supplemental money.

The special primary election comes two weeks after the June 8 regular statewide primary.

It is designed to fill the 15th District state Senate seat vacated in April when Sen. Abel Maldonado was elevated by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to lieutenant governor halfway through his term.

Under the state Elections Code, a special balloting like this one must be preceded by eight weeks by a special primary.

Schwarzenegger could have consolidated the special general election with the Nov. 2 statewide general election. A primary still would have been necessary, but cash-strapped county elections officials would have been forced to conduct only one special election, rather than two.

Instead, Schwarzenegger scheduled the special Senate general election for Aug. 17, which also triggered the June 22 special Senate primary election.

Rodewald said she will be back later requesting money for the Aug. 17 election as well.

County boards of supervisors, already livid at the state for raiding local funds and ordering counties to pay for state programs, objected strenuously to Schwarzenegger’s chosen date.

Schwarzenegger ignored them.

One of the four candidates in the race for the 15th District seat, Democrat John Laird of Santa Cruz, also asked the governor to change the date, to no avail. The Republican candidate, Assemblyman Sam Blakeslee of San Luis Obispo, said he, too, questioned the governor about the date, but was rebuffed.

Two other candidates, Independent Jim Fitzgerald of Nipomo and Libertarian Mark Hinkle, have not weighed in.

Maldonado did not ask for a change of date, telling The Tribune that it is not his place to question the governor’s decisions.

Rodewald wrote supervisors that she will make “every attempt … to reduce the cost.” She expressed skepticism that the state will reimburse the county.

The money will go to print ballots and sample ballots, postage, supplies, paying election workers, delivering equipment and renting polling places.

Reach Bob Cuddy at 781-7909.