Judge allows repeat election Winner's plea to halt contest is rejected

June 04, 1993|By Adam Sachs | Adam Sachs,Staff Writer

A Howard Circuit Court judge declined yesterday to intervene in a repeat Columbia Council election set for tomorrow in Long Reach village -- at least for now.

Leaving the court the option of having final say, Judge Raymond J. Kane Jr. refused six-year incumbent Dr. Gail Bailey's request for an injunction halting the contest and an immediate ruling on her apparent ballot victory over challenger Roy T. Lyons in a disputed April 24 election.

Regardless of who wins at the Long Reach polls tomorrow, attorneys for both candidates say the case, which likely will be heard next month, will hinge on an interpretation of Columbia's voting rules.

Dr. Bailey had little reaction to the judge's decision, but said she is determined to have the unincorporated city's election procedures clarified.

"As long as I've agonized over this, I still don't know the answers," she said. "The [Long Reach] village board has given me two answers. Which one is right?"

Mr. Lyons, who didn't attend the closed-door session in Judge Kane's chambers, said he's anxious to give Long Reach voters another shot at selecting their representative on the 10-member Columbia Council.

"I've been a good guy all through this doggone thing," said Mr. Lyons, who protested Ms. Bailey apparent 386-to-157 victory in the April 24 election. "We'll just see how things work out.

"If in view of all they've seen, if Gail Bailey's supporters still want to support her, they deserve her," he said. "We'll see how the rest of the people in Long Reach feel."

In his protest, Mr. Lyons charged that two apartment owners cast 276 votes between them for Dr. Bailey -- one for each apartment in their buildings -- swinging the outcome in her favor.

XTC For years, Long Reach has allowed apartment owners to vote on behalf of tenants, unless the renter shows up at the polls first.

The village's election committee confirmed that the policy was valid, at a pre-election meeting, but on May 14 ordered a new election after a legal opinion determined that the village has erroneously interpreted voting rules.

Dr. Bailey sued Tuesday to block the new election, claiming a "retroactive" change in interpretation of the voting rules put her council seat in jeopardy.

The lawsuit raises questions about voting rules outlined in covenants that apply to most Columbia villages. For example, Dr. Bailey asks the court to declare that apartment owners be permitted to cast one vote per unit, and that both an owner and a tenant representing the same residence each be entitled to one vote.

Eight of Columbia's 10 villages base voting rights on property ownership, allowing those who own more than one residential unit or vacant lot to cast multiple votes.

"There are many issues unanswered at this point that will require interpretation by the court for other village boards for future elections," said Jan O'Connor, Dr. Bailey's attorney.

The judge set deadlines for each party to file legal actions, with a hearing likely in July. Attorneys for the defendants, the Long Reach Community Association and the Columbia Association said they would try to avoid a trial by asking for a prompt judgment based on the law.

In the meantime, a second election is scheduled from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. tomorrow at the Long Reach Village Center.

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