Monrovia City Council Candidate Could Win Election Posthumously

When Mary Wilcox died last Friday, she left scores of admirers from her 17 years on Monrovia’s City Council.

Her death also left officials weighing the possibility that Wilcox could win reelection Tuesday.

Wilcox, 73, was well-known around town and the only incumbent in a five-way race for two council seats. Her death Feb. 21 came too close to election day to remove her name from the ballot. A campaign aide announced Wilcox’s withdrawal after she suffered a stroke during a televised candidates’ forum Feb. 13.

Polling officials plan to post signs notifying voters about Wilcox’s death, but are barred by law from telling people how to vote. Officials expect she will get votes anyway, especially because at least 100 absentee ballots have been cast by mail.


City Clerk Linda Proctor has reviewed election laws on how to proceed if Wilcox were to be one of the two top vote-getters. In that case, the City Council could name a replacement for the four-year term or call a special election, she said.

It would not be the first time in California that a candidate has won posthumously. The late Curtis R. Tucker won reelection to the state Assembly in 1988 after succumbing to liver cancer shortly before election day. He was replaced in a special election by his son, Curtis R. Tucker Jr.

Scott Martin, an Anaheim election consultant whose firm helps 200 cities statewide, said he knows of two or three cases in which a deceased candidate’s name appeared on the ballot. He said state election law does not allow a candidate to withdraw--for any reason--once the filing deadline passes, which is 88 days before the balloting.

“There’s not much you can do,” Martin said. “The ballots are all printed. The sample ballots are distributed, and some votes have been cast.”