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    Election Follow-Up

    Vice Mayor/Councilwoman Jackie Kell Congratulates Apparent Councilwoman-Elect Gerrie Schipske...But Hasn't Conceded, Is Awaiting Count Of Remaining Ballots, Her Consultant Says

    by Bill Pearl with material by Signal Tribune reporter Joseph Serna

    (June 7, 2006, updated text) -- Shortly before noon today (June 7), with the City Clerk's unofficial tally showing 5th district Council candidate Gerrie Schipske leading with 5,090 votes (51.3%) over incumbent Vice Mayor/Councilwoman Jackie Kell's 4,828 votes (48.7%), apparent Councilwoman-elect Schipske says she received a telephone call from incumbent Councilwoman Kell congratulating her on the June 6 runoff election outcome.

    But a few hours thereafter, Jeff Adler, campaign consultant to Councilwoman Kell's campaign in the race, called to advise that the two term incumbent has NOT conceded defeat and is awaiting an updated count of additional ballots that have not yet been counted (which won't happen until next week) before deciding on its next move.

    In an emailed statement shortly before noon, Ms. Schipske said, "Jackie Kell was extremely gracious. She offered to meet together later this month to help me make a smooth transition as I take office. Both Jackie and I agree that the residents of the 5th Council District are our top priorities and we want to make sure there is no interruption in representation. I appreciate Jackie Kell's many years of service to the 5th District and the City of Long Beach."

    Ms. Schipske's statement continued, "I am grateful that the voters of the 5th Council District have given me an opportunity to serve my community. I am also grateful to my family, my volunteers and the members of TALB, California Nurses Association, League of Conservation Voters, Long Beach City Employees Association and the LA County Federation of Labor for their support and hard work in this campaign. We have much work ahead in this District and in this City to make Long Beach the best place to live and work. Together, we can make that happen."

    But a few hours after we reported this, Kell campaign consultant Adler phoned to say that "until the remaining votes are counted next week, we're not conceding." Mr. Adler continued, "Jackie's statement talked about cooperating and yes, she did congratulate Ms. Schipske on running her campaign and yes, Ms. Schipske is the apparent winner but we haven't conceded...and there are enough votes yet to be counted that the outcome of the race is still in doubt."

    Mr. Adler said three groups of ballots aren't scheduled to be counted until next Thursday (June 15). Those include 200 provisional ballots plus 396 absentee/vote by mail ballots, plus 1,320 of what the clerk calls "blank" ballots (not voted in the 5th district, name written in the wrong place or with the ballot dot not darkened, or with the name of other candidates written-in who are not qualified as write-in candidates). And there's another group of about 3,400 citywide...some portion of which belongs to the 5th district, although that portion isn't known yet.

    "So Jackie is not conceding," Mr. Adler said. "We're awaiting the outcome of the final tabulation to determine whether we want to have a recount, but we want to await the final count and then make that decision."

    Mr. Adler added, "She [Ms. Schipske] is the apparent winner, and yes we have a very steep hill to climb, but it's just not over and we've haven't conceded."

    As a practical matter, a candidate's "concession" is more etiquette than substance; the City Clerk will count the votes and declare a winner based on their count, period.

    Ms. Schipske has personally been on the opposite side of this process in previous (non-city) races...when her opponents held a narrow margin over her...and that margin held up as the remaining votes were counted.

    Councilwoman Kell, the two-term incumbent and wife of LB's retired Mayor Ernie Kell, ran a write-in campaign to remain in office under term limits. Ms. Schipske's name was the only name printed in the ballot, but Councilwoman Kell hoped her write-in campaign would win her a third it did for Beverly O'Neill in in 2002.

    Councilwoman Kell was endorsed by the Press-Telegram, Business Journal, LB Police and Firefighter Unions and the LB Area Chamber of Commerce.

    Ms. Schipske (center in election night photo) was backed by the Teachers Ass'n of Long Beach (TALB) where she serves as General Counsel).

    "I couldn’t have done anything different," Ms. Schipske told Signal Tribune reporter Joseph Serna as the first results were being posted Tuesday night. "I just focused on the issues."

    Schipske election night June 6/06
    Photo credit: Neena Strichart, Signal Tribune

    This morning, LB's City Clerk's office said that on a citywide basis, "there are 1,997 absentee and 2,475 provisional envelopes that must be processed, prior to counting. In addition to these totals, there are approximately 3,405 absentee ballots that were delivered via the U.S. Mail on Saturday, Monday, and Tuesday. These 3,405 envelopes are not included in the unofficial precinct reports."

    As we noted in earlier stories, this race is still too close for us to call. The City Clerk says its office expects "to certify this election no later than June 27, 2006."

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