Oceanside sanitation board to meet with lawyer about contested election

Tom Lanning, left, defeated Oceanside restaurant owner Mike Tom Lanning, left, defeated Oceanside restaurant owner Mike Franzini by 42 votes when paper ballots were combined with about 1,600 votes from two voting machines rented by the sanitation district. Photo Credit: Facebook

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Oceanside sanitation commissioners will meet with their lawyer this morning on how to decide last month's contested election.

The Oceanside Sanitation District 7 announced on its website that it would hold a special meeting at its offices at 10 a.m. The board likely will hear from its attorney in a closed executive session, but by law, any vote or action taken would have to take place in open session.

The district has not declared a winner nearly a month since the June 19 election after about 1,700 votes were cast.

Three candidates are vying for the vacant seat of retiring Commissioner Fred Morse. The post pays $7,500 per year. The initial results showed Oceanside Chamber of Commerce president Tom Lanning leading Oceanside restaurant owner Mike Franzini by 98 votes. A third challenger, Stephen Edmondson, received about a dozen votes.

At odds in the final tally are 184 uncounted paper ballots and a voting machine that showed a discrepancy of 130 voters who entered a voting booth but did not cast votes.

The election was run by the district using voting machines rented from a company in Queens.

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The attorney for the district, Jack Libert, said he planned to present the results of his investigation of the election to the board so commissioners could make a final decision on the outcome of last month's vote. Those options include certifying the current results, ordering a recount or holding a new election.

"I don't know if they'll make a decision Monday. With the election a month out, one way or another, it's been a long time," Libert said Sunday. "Whichever way they go, someone is entitled to the position or to contest the election."

The board also will hear about potential legal consequences of any decision, Libert said.

The sanitation district serves about 13,000 homes and 950 businesses and operated last year with a budget of $8.65 million. Each home in the district pays about $600 in taxes annually.

Both Franzini and Lanning have hired attorneys, but neither candidate can contest the election until a winner is declared or the election is certified.

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