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Third city council spot too close to call

As of Thursday, Jennifer Stark, Jed Leano and Ed Reece still occupy the top three positions for Claremont City Council. But Ed Reece is only ahead of Zach Courser by 110 votes for third.

According to city clerk Shelley Desautels, the county estimates 1,479 provisional and 1,383 vote-by-mail ballots from Claremont voters are not yet counted. They will start counting these ballots on Friday, November 9, but will not announce any results until Tuesday, November 13. Stay tuned to the COURIER for election updates.

With 100 percent of the precincts reporting—not including provisional and mail-in ballots—Ms. Stark, Mr. Leano and Mr. Reece are currently sitting above other candidates Zach Courser, Douglas Lyon and Michael Ceraso for the three open seats, according to unofficial results from the Los Angeles County Registrar of Voters. This election will cement a new majority on the council.

Ms. Stark received the most support overall, with 5,848 votes (24.46 percent). Mr. Leano came in second with 5,170 votes (21.62 percent) and Mr. Reece rounded out the top three with 4,383 votes (18.33 percent), according to the Los Angeles County Registrar of Voters.

The slightly narrow margin separating Mr. Reece and Mr. Courser for the third and final spot came after both candidates switched positions throughout the night. Mr. Courser currently has 4,273 votes (17.87 percent), according to the county registrar.

There are still provisional and vote-by-mail ballots that need to be counted, according to Ms. Desautels. The number of b

allots that still need to be counted represents "fluid estimates,” she added.  

"Also, numbers will increase slightly if the County receives ballots that were postmarked by Election Day and received by this Friday."

Updates will be posted every Tuesday and Friday between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. The county registrar will certify the election on November 30, and it remains to be seen how the uncounted provisional and vote-by-mail ballots would affect the overall total.

Mr. Reece said he was proud of the campaign he ran, and was optimistic about the outstanding vote by mails and provisional ballots that have yet to be counted. He noted that as more precincts came in throughout election night, he saw he was able to keep his lead.

“I’m hopeful that trend will continue and I’ll be able to serve the community for the next four years,” he said.

Mr. Courser said he was “expectantly waiting” for more numbers to come in over the coming days, and noted that many states trigger an automatic recount when two candidates are within a half of a percentage point of each other. Mr. Courser currently sits 0.46 percent behind Mr. Reece.

“If that’s an indication of that standard of closeness in an election, I think we’re in it,” he said.

Overall, voter turnout in Claremont was at 51 percent, Ms. Desautels said.

Mr. Lyon is currently in fifth place with 2,148 votes (8.98 percent) and Mr. Ceraso is in sixth with 2,090 votes (8.74 percent).

At Ms. Stark's election night party, which was held at former mayor Diann Ring's house in north Claremont, it was all smiles and cheers as the first numbers began to trickle in.

"I feel really honored," Ms. Stark said when she first found out she was the front-runner. "Super, super honored."

She noted her campaign has been an "extraordinary experience," but also a trial by fire and a period of tremendous growth.

"All in all, it has been an exceptionally positive experience," she said. "It’s been an experience of growth, and something I’ll never, ever forget."

Mr. Leano, at his election night party at Sanctuary Coffee, said he felt nervous as the numbers rolled in, but was proud of the campaign he ran, especially when it came to mobilizing young people on issues like homelessness, affordable housing, senior care and sustainability.

Mr. Leano noted he was thinking about his grandmother and aunt, two family members who raised him and who died in 2009 and 2014, respectively.

"I’m thinking about them, because they would really have liked to be here," he said.

Matthew Bramlett

news@claremont-courier.com