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Madueno Calls Off Recount
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Shortly after it began on Monday, outgoing Riverbank Mayor Virginia Madueno decided to halt a recount of votes from the Nov. 6 election that saw her lose her post to councilman Richard O'Brien.

She had filed the request for a recount one minute before the deadline on Tuesday, Dec. 4, citing 'irregularities' in the process and seeking a review of all the votes. She lost the election by just a 53-vote margin.

The Stanislaus County Registrar of Voters office in Modesto was the site of the recount beginning Monday morning, with a small group of interested citizens turning out, in addition to representatives of both Madueno and O'Brien.

Elections officials were about five hours into the process when Madueno opted to halt the recount. No numbers had changed in the returns reviewed. Initial concerns were over provisional ballots not being counted ... elections officials said a total of 73 provisional ballots in Riverbank were determined to be ineligible for a variety of reasons, many because the voters were not registered. Without those ballots, and with a recount of some precinct votes showing no changes from the election night numbers, Madueno called for an end to the recount.

She was among the 'yes' votes later as the council accepted the results at their Monday night meeting and, after receiving a plaque, flowers and words of thanks from fellow council members, left the dais and was succeeded in the mayoral post by O'Brien.

The final vote count was 3,098 to 3,045 in O'Brien's favor.

Meanwhile, Riverbank City Manager Jill Anderson said Tuesday morning that the city council "did not decide on the selection method" to fill the remaining two years of O'Brien's term on the council at the Monday night meeting.

Several options are available, including a special election, appointment of another candidate from the Nov. 6 election, or opening it up for applicants from the community.

"They scheduled a special meeting for next Monday (Dec. 17) at 5:30 p.m. when they will revisit the issue," explained Anderson. "They did appear to be leaning to appointing, that was the focus of the discussion."

The council deadlocked, however, on which way to go with the appointment, with some advocating choosing among all the other candidates, others wanting additional community residents to have the chance to apply, some in the audience suggesting the appointment of Cal Campbell, who finished third behind Jeanine Tucker and Darlene Barber-Martinez.

Anderson said a special election is not preferred, as it can be costly.

"The estimates we have are between $38,000 and $57,000," Anderson said, with the figures based on the number of polls used, printing costs, and the like.

The council will discuss the options and possibly decide on a course of action at the Monday night special session, in the council chambers.

Anderson said they have 60 days in which to act, whether the decision is to hold a special election, fill the post temporarily until the special election, or appoint someone. If they decide to open the post up for additional candidates, they still have to have someone in the council seat by Feb. 8, 2013.