Gary CloutierElection Challenge Update

Posted January 29, 2007

By Marc Garman


Gary Cloutier's election challenge fund raiser/ Q&A session on Sunday January 27 was well attended.

Rick Mariani's cavernous photo studio on Tennessee Street (used for the event) was filled with Cloutier supporters--the press, both print and television--Cloutier detractors, and other notables such as county supervisor Barbara Kondylis and councilmember Joanne Schivley.
"People need to be assured that their vote is counted." said Cloutier, speaking about his reasons for pursuing what is likely to be a lengthy and expensive process with an uncertain outcome.
Supervisor Kondylis also addressed the audience.  "The county screwed up."--"We don't know if Gary won or Osby won."
Kondylis went on to emphasize the need for citizen oversight of the election idea that has not been greeted with much warmth in Fairfield. 
Citizen oversight groups have been successful in other communities.  Jennifer Kidder of the Voting Rights Task Force and Dan Ashby of the Election Defense Alliance were on hand to speak, and answer questions about election oversight.  (See the contact info at the bottom of the page if you have questions or want to get involved.)
When asked for her perspective, Cloutier campaign manager Pam Keith advised, "--that everybody call the election department.  With all respect, Mr. Rosenthal and Mr. McWilliams seem to think they are untouchable. They need to be made to pay the price.  Call them."
On the flipside, Davis supporter and election observer Barbara Adams felt, "There was a process."  and that, "There was an attempt to be very even handed as to who was on the recount board."
Other election observers felt there was chaos during the recount.
Cloutier supporter and observer Patrick Farrell has, on more than one occasion, described ballots being piled on the floor in one counting room.
Katy Miessner, our own ADQ, and election observer stated, "We were given contradictory information during the recount.  Rosenthal and McWilliams are still giving contradictory information."
At this point Cloutier has laid out $25,000 of his own money, "--more than I can afford."  to pay for attorneys specializing in election law.  Another $75,000 likely must be raised to fund a successful challenge.  ( Go to Cloutier's website to help.)
If he succeeds, Cloutier will be handed the reins of a city in financial hot water (bankruptcy?), in discord with its public safety unions--and struggling to move forward in the face of a real estate slump and likely national recession.
Considering the expense of this challenge, and the high level of uncertainty, one can only conclude that Cloutier must be either highly principled or just plain nuts.  Regardless, it is hard not to admire such an effort.
Cloutier concluded by saying, "Something wrong happened and it needs to be rectified."
1) Voting Rights Task Force
    Jennifer Kidder (510) 843-7090
2) Election Defense Alliance
    Dan Ashby
    (510) 233-2144