Trustee Turnaround : Election Flip-Flops at Santa Monica College

Times Staff Writer

For five days, Pat Nichelson thought he had been elected to the Santa Monica College Board of Trustees by a margin of 98 votes.

But Monday afternoon, Nichelson found out that he had lost by 78 votes to incumbent James M. Bambrick.

The turnaround occurred because Los Angeles County officials have now tallied thousands of the 2.1 million votes cast in the county that could not be counted immediately, including absentee ballots delivered to the polls Election Day, mutilated ballots and write-ins that had to be counted by hand.

Officials from the Santa Monica city clerk’s office said Monday that although some ballots had yet to be counted, so few are left that they are not expected to further change the outcome of Santa Monica’s city elections. But just to be on the safe side, they said the college board installation ceremonies are being postponed until after the county Board of Supervisors officially certifies the totals on Nov. 25.


Bambrick, an attorney, will be installed Dec. 1 along with fellow incumbents and running mates Colin C. Petrie, Fred L. Beteta and Carole L. Currey.

“Here I had just gotten used to the idea I hadn’t won,” said Bambrick when notified Monday of the election reversal. “I guess it’s back to work for me.”

Nichelson, chairman of religious studies at California State University, Northridge, said Tuesday he is disappointed to have lost, but will not seek a recount. “It is very unlikely that this reversal will be reversed,” he said.

Nichelson said he considers it a compliment to all three challengers that the vote count was so close. Opposing the four incumbents were Nichelson, his running mate Carol E. Hetrick and independent candidate Robert M. Neff.


Nichelson, Hetrick and Neff were endorsed by Santa Monicans for Renters’ Rights, while the four incumbents had the backing of the rival All Santa Monica Coalition.

The vote count reported on Monday was Petrie, 17,905; Beteta, 17,687; Currey, 17,552; Bambrick, 17,153; Nichelson, 17,075; Hetrick, 16,869, and Neff, 13,638.