Special election set in wake of dispute

May 16, 1993|By Adam Sachs | Adam Sachs,Staff Writer

In Sunday's Howard section, an article about the Columbia zTC Council election incorrectly described who the Long Reach election committee said should take responsibility for the April 24 vote. The committee said the "conduct of this election . . . is the responsibility of the" Long Reach Community Association.

The Sun regrets the errors.

Two Columbia Council candidates who both claimed victorin the recent election may be forced into a rematch, unless legal maneuvering scuttles a plan announced Friday night.

Long Reach village officials have determined that the village's April 24 council election was "conducted incorrectly" and approved a "special election" June 5 between Roy T. Lyons, who challenged the outcome, and incumbent Gail Bailey, originally declared the winner.


Mr. Lyons claimed that 276 votes cast for his opponent by two apartment building owners swung an election he otherwise would have won. The apartment building owners cast one vote for each of their dwelling units.

In eight of Columbia's 10 villages, including Long Reach, property owners are entitled to one vote for each dwelling unit or vacant lot owned. Mr. Lyons contended apartment building owners should not be able to cast a vote for each unit owned, and the Long Reach election committee agreed after getting legal advice.

Interpretations of the policy vary from village to village.

The Long Reach election committee recommended that the village board schedule a special election "to provide fairness to the community and the candidates, since the election rules have been reinterpreted by independent legal counsel."

But Mr. Lyons called the village board's decision unfair and said he will consult his lawyer.

"Since they admitted that what they did was miscount the ballots, there should be no need to have another election," Mr. Lyons said. "If they count correctly, it will solve the problem.

"Why should I go through another campaign? I went through a campaign, and I won it."

The village board rejected an option proposed by the committee to "re-examine the ballots cast . . . and make the appropriate adjustment."

Mr. Lyons charged that the village board "tried to be all things to all people" in its decision.

Ms. Bailey, a six-year council member who is continuing on the council while the election is in dispute, didn't attend the meeting and couldn't be reached for comment.

The election committee wrote in a report that the rules adopted for this year's election were "the same as those adopted in good faith for previous elections." Long Reach's "erroneous interpretation" of its covenants has been in effect since about 1986, the report says.

The committee said that "responsibility" for the conduct of the election lies with the Columbia Association, a nonprofit corporation that was involved in establishing the legal documents that govern Columbia's villages.

"If the rules are wrong, it is the rule-makers, not those who have acted within their scope, who are to blame," the report says.

The council acts as a board of directors for the Columbia Association.

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