Cathedral City recount starts Thursday

Riverside County election officials on Thursday will begin the much-anticipated recount of Cathedral City ballots.

The process is being funded by mayoral challenger Chip Yarborough, who has decided to pay $2,800 a day to have the pricier manual recount instead of one that relies on machines.

Yarborough lost to incumbent Mayor Kathy DeRosa by just 13 votes.

“The registrar said that there are chances of the machine missing something,” Yarborough told Desert Sun reporter Tamara Sone. “It’s expensive but people have been calling me saying that I have to do the recount.”

A machine recount would have cost $1,873 per day, according to earlier estimates.

County Registrar Kari Verjil told The Desert Sun that that first day of a recount is typically the slowest, as election officials and the observers get into their groove.

Yarborough has a team of supporters planning to go to Riverside to oversee the process.  He’s also hired a Los Angeles-based attorney to assist.

The recount will continue as long as Yarborough wants to fund it.

If Yarborough calls it off before each of the 12,303 Cathedral City ballots are recounted– as was the case during the 2010 recount of the Rancho Mirage council recount – the certified election results will stand.

The Nov. 6 election results now show DeRosa has 5,729 votes to Yarborough’s 5,716 votes. A third candidate, John David Kauffman got 858 votes.

The current schedule calls for the recount to continue Friday and — if necessary – resume on Monday. Verjil currently has no plans to have her staff work over the weekend.

There is no deadline for the registrar’s office to finish, but it is anticipated the entire recount will only take a few days.

“As a leader of this city, I am looking forward to the election coming to conclusion,” DeRosa said.

Update as of 11:45 a.m. Thursday: The photos in this blog were updated to reflect the activity this morning. The photos were submitted by Yarborough.


Cathedral City mayoral recount to begin Thursday after Chip Yarborough loses to Kathy DeRosa

Challenger Chip Yarborough reacted on Nov. 6 to Election Night returns, which put him ahead in the Cathedral City mayoral race. (Wade Byars, The Desert Sun)

A manual recount in the Cathedral City mayoral race will begin Thursday, the Riverside County Registrar of Voters announced Monday.

Chip Yarborough requested the recount after Mayor Kathy DeRosa’s come-from-behind victory. She finished with 5,729 votes, a 13-vote edge.

A recount costs about $1,873 per day, the registrar estimated.

A recount of the 12,303 ballots may take about three days, bringing the total cost to about $5,600.

The public recount will begin at 9 a.m. Thursday at the registrar’s office, 2724 Gateway Drive in Riverside.

Today was the last day to request a recount in Riverside County.

Related link: How recounts work in California

Mayor Kathy DeRosa portrayed as witch in campaign piece

It appears the election antics aren’t over quite yet.

The latest is a flier portraying Cathedral City Mayor Kathy DeRosa as a witch, showing her flying over the civic center on a broomstick. It is being distributed mainly through email chains and on Facebook in order to solicit donations for mayoral challenger Chip Yarborough’s recount effort.

The image was created by photographer Peter Palladino, who said he’s not involved in Yarborough’s campaign but instead saw it as “a piece of art expressing my personal political views.”

The flier, obtained by The Desert Sun, includes a reference to Yarborough’s website, although Palladino said the text was not on his original work.

Yarborough has denied any involvement with the flier, but DeRosa said today that “it speaks to the integrity of the candidate whose name is on it and (of the person) who created it.”

“If it weren’t so juvenile, it would be disgusting,” DeRosa told The Desert Sun. “For me, it speaks to a lack of leadership. That the candidate doesn’t know about it and sees it now, it should absolutely be pulled from the Facebook page.”

Yarborough, who lost the Nov. 6 election by 13 votes, had planned to formally request a recount today.

“I am not aware of this ‘flier’ and will not be reporting it (as a donation) as I did not authorize it, nor did I spend money on it,” he said in an email.

Chip Yarborough to request recount

Cathedral City mayoral challenger Chip Yarborough will request a recount after the election results showed he was just 13 votes shy of unseating Mayor Kathy DeRosa.

Yarborough made the announcement on his Facebook page this evening, and is asking supporters to help him raise the $3,000 to $10,000 to cover costs.

The Riverside County registrar earlier told The Desert Sun the recount would cost about $5,600, assuming a cost of $1,873 per day for three days.

Yarborough, a retired 911 center administrator, plans to file the request by Thursday.

“This decision was based on the many notes, phone calls and emails from so many supporters,” he wrote on Facebook today. “We have run a great campaign and I owe it to our many, many supporters to double check the count.”

Yarborough had been leading in the close race, but that lead diminished as the provisional ballots were counted.

The Nov. 6 election results, certified Monday, show DeRosa has 5,729 votes to Yarborough’s 5,716 votes. A third candidate, John David Kauffman got 858 votes.

There are no automatic recounts in California. Whoever requests a recount also must cover the costs of the process.

The deadline to request a recount is Saturday.

Registrar: Election could be wrapped Wednesday

Riverside County Registrar Kari Verjil says she is now hoping to finish counting the remaining 33,000 provisional ballots by Wednesday.

Verjil presented the revised timetable during this morning’s Riverside County supervisors’ meeting in Riverside.

It is not known how many of those ballots may be from the desert, where the races for a Palm Desert council seat and the Cathedral City mayoral spot are currently being determined by slim margins.

Verjil had initially expected her staff would have to work through Thanksgiving weekend in order to finish processing all the ballots.

The next round of updates is expected around 6 p.m. Wednesday.

Verjil has until Dec. 4 to finish and certify the count.

Election update: Susan Marie Weber now leading Bill Kroonen in Palm Desert

Palm Desert Mayor Pro Tem Bill Kroonen is now on the verge of losing his seat to challenger Susan Marie Weber.

The latest election results, released tonight, show Weber has 6,116 votes to Kroonen’s 6,099 — a 17-vote advantage.

Until now, Kroonen had maintained the lead.

Registrar Kari Verjil earlier told The Desert Sun that she would prioritize results from the Palm Desert race, where 1,300 provisional ballots remained uncounted last week.

It was not immediately clear how many of those ballots are still outstanding.

In Cathedral City, the vote margin has narrowed dramatically.

Mayoral challenger Chip Yarborough is still beating incumbent Kathy DeRosa, but his lead has been cut to just 12 votes.

The official tally has Yarborough with 5,692 votes to DeRosa’s 5,680 votes.

Today’s update includes almost 30,000 ballots countywide. Another 33,000 provisional ballots still need to be counted, an unknown number of which are from the desert.
The registrar will post more results at 6 p.m. Wednesday.

Politics as usual for Cathedral City candidates

They may have lost their election bids for Cathedral City council, but it is already clear that Jens Mueller and Paul Marchard are planning to stay involved in city politics.

Both Mueller and Marchard took to the microphone at Wednesday’s council meeting, using it as a podium to continue with some of the talking points that they used in their respective council campaigns.

Mueller spent his three minutes saying that council should spend less time on tracking the bed taxes that come from vacation rentals and more time on reducing the city’s pension bill.

Marchand — who immediately suggested Mueller was launching a 2014 campaign — also took time to congratulate Councilman Greg Pettis, councilman-elect Stan Henry and mayoral challenger Chip Yarborough, who is leading as votes continue to be counted.

As Marchand turned to leave the podium, Mayor Kathy DeRosa decided to weigh in.

“Thank you, and don’t be too premature: the election has not been certified,” DeRosa said.

The Riverside County Registrar has until Dec. 4 to finish counting the Nov. 6 election ballots and to certify the results.

The latest tally shows DeRosa trailing Yarborough by 180 votes. Additional results will be posted Friday.

Tamara Sone contributed to this blog post.

Mayor Kathy DeRosa loses online site

Don’t be surprised if you get an error message while trying to access Cathedral City Mayor Kathy DeRosa’s campaign site.

DeRosa told The Desert Sun that the company that was hosting her site — –has “shut down the site.”

DeRosa noted the decision also impacts every other California candidate who was using the web host and that there is “no recourse.”

DeRosa has advertised both the website and her Facebook page on her campaign literature, including a mailer that recently went to voters.

The main website is now down, so it’s not clear how much charged candidates. A price list from June 2010 that’s still archived online indicates municipal candidates used to be charged $50.

DeRosa and every other municipal candidate must disclose how much they’ve raised and spent by Friday.

Tales from the campaign trail

If there was an award for best campaign-related email, Cathedral City council candidate Jens Mueller would be a serious contender for the short message he sent along over the weekend:

“Hi Erica. I’m campaigning in front (of) Target, but not on their property, and they have threatened to call the police. I’ll keep you posted.”

Mueller followed up with two voicemail messages, explaining the authorities did show up but they let him stay.

Mueller ran in 2010, coming in last of four council candidates with a little more than 21 percent of the vote.

Clearing the record

If you plan on taking aim at Cathedral City’s budget woes, make sure you have your facts straight.

That was the message Councilman Bud England sent to council candidate Jens Mueller after he used the public comment period of a recent council meeting to criticize city leaders.

Mueller, for those who are keeping tabs, will be trying to unseat England or Councilman Greg Pettis this fall.

“Cathedral City officials for months now have blamed the state for our fiscal mess,” Mueller said in a speech that pointed out how Coachella officials were able to balance their budget.

“If we are looking to blame someone for this financial mess, then we should look no further than the city council themselves. They were here, you elected them to serve your interests and they have not done so.”

A few days later, England sent Mueller  — along with a few city leaders and The Desert Sun  — an email that indicated the councilman thought Mueller was taking information out of context.

In it, England outlined Robert’s Rules of Order pointed out that Coachella’s budget is smaller than Cathedral City’s, and mentioning that other cities across California have also had to make tough decisions.

Mueller hasn’t responded to the email, England said.

“It has nothing to do with him campaigning. It has everything to do with maintaining truthfulness in the public arena,” England told The Desert Sun.

“I don’t mean any malice towards him. It’s all about being honest in front of the public.”