NORWALK - While the race for Norwalk City Council may be over - the battle for votes may have just begun. Due to a discrepancy between manual ballot counts and an electronic count in one precinct, Norwalk City Clerk Theresa Devoy has ordered a city-wide recount of all the votes cast during the March 5 City Council election.
The order comes just days after an updated vote count released by the city clerk's office placed Enrique Aranda within 33 votes of Mayor Cheri Kelley, who reclaimed her seat on the council after a crowded race pinned two seasoned incumbents against three challengers.
Aranda, a marketing director for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, was only 65 votes shy of surpassing Kelley on election night after the two opponents received 1,615 and 1,680 votes respectively.
Late last Thursday afternoon, the city clerk's office counted an additional 580 vote-by-mail and provisional ballots, adding the count to the March 5 semi-official results.
While 25-year incumbent Mike Mendez remains the top vote-getter in the updated ballot count with 1,918 votes, Aranda closed the gap with Kelley collecting 1,846 votes to her 1,879 votes.
Darryl Adams, a teacher and member of the Norwalk-La Mirada School Board, garnered 1,531 votes in the tally while community volunteer Candy Martinez received 867 votes. Brian Mesinas-Perez, who dropped out of the race several months ago, finished last with 305 votes.
Last week, Aranda's campaign challenged the vote and called on the city clerk to recount the ballots.
"I'm very happy to hear about the recount," said Aranda who was told a recount could cost his campaign up to $7,300 per day. "The city has not been proactive, they're being responsive. This really raises the question about the structure we have for elections in Norwalk."
Aranda maintains several members of the public have also voiced concerns to him about the voting process in Norwalk.
"There have been allegations of voter suppression and those most affected are working families who can't get to the polls and are turned away from voting," he said. "It's not just my supporters, but the public in general. There's a dissatisfaction with the way they've handled elections."
The city clerk's office would not confirm whether anyone from Aranda's campaign motivated the recount.
The final voting results will be certified at the regular council meeting on March 19. Election winners will also be sworn in during the meeting.