(June 30, 2006) -- Councilwoman Jackie Kell's lawyer has told LBReport.com that following the City Clerk's completion today (June 30) of a detailed breakout of all hand-recounted ballots in the 5th district City Council race, incumbent Councilwoman Jackie Kell has decided NOT to pursue a court challenge to the election of Ms. E. Gerrie Schipske as ELB's new Council representative.
From election night June 6 until today, Ms. Schipske has held the lead over two-term Councilwoman Kell, who ran a write-in campaign to retain office under term limits...and Kell declined to concede the race until all votes were counted...and then recounted.
In the final machine-counted tally, Schipske led by 166 votes. In a legally required sample precinct hand counted, Schipske picked up three more votes. And on June 23, the City Clerk certified Ms. Schipske as the winner by 169 votes.
Councilwoman Kell then requested a hand-recount of all 11,000+ 5th district ballots...which showed Ms. Schipske had actually outpolled Kell by 247 votes.
At midafternoon today (June 30), LBReport.com posted a FLASH announcement on our front page (www.lbreport.com) indicating Kell would not pursue a court challenge to the result.
Councilwoman Kell's lawyer, attorney Bradley Hertz, indicated that his client's purpose in conducting the hand-recount had been to determine the voters' intent. The hand-recount showed 140 ballots in which voters wrote-in Councilwoman Kell's name but didn't fill-in the candidate choice bubble + 67 ballots where voters wrote-in Kell's name and darkened the bubble but did so in the wrong place on the ballot (in the section for Mayor or School Board) + 7 more ballots where voters wrote Councilwoman Kell's name somewhere on the ballot but marked the candidate-choice bubble somewhere else that didn't match. That produced 214 total ballots if viewed in the most favorable light possible for Kell.
Since the official City Clerk hand-recount tally showed Ms. Schipske had won by 247 votes, Councilwoman Kell was -- at best -- still 33 votes short of any mathematical chance of overcoming Schipske's lead.
With less than a majority of 5th district ballots in her favor, Councilwoman Kell decided not to pursue the matter in court.
Four years ago in June 2002, write-in candidate Beverly O'Neill was reelected to a third term as Mayor on less than a majority vote. In that race, only roughly 46% of voters favored reelecting O'Neill...with over half preferring then-Vice Mayor Dan Baker or Norm Ryan.
The bottom line: more than three weeks after the polls closed, LBReport.com can definitively report that attorney E. Gerrie Schipske is ELB's 5th district Councilwoman-elect.
She and other officeholders will be legally sworn into office quietly on July 17 (the first business day after the start of new terms on July 15)...with ceremonial swearing-in events taking place the next day.