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Political Landscape: Recount suspended in Newport council race

Marshall Duffield observes as ballots are sorted for a recount of the Duffield-Tim Stoaks race for N
Newport Beach Councilman Marshall “Duffy” Duffield watches as ballots are sorted Wednesday on the first day of a recount of his November election victory over Tim Stoaks.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

Backers of a recount in last month’s photo-finish election for the District 3 seat on the Newport Beach City Council suspended the count Friday after two days to take stock of the tally and their funding for it before deciding whether to continue next week.

Incumbent Marshall “Duffy” Duffield was sworn in Tuesday for his second term based on results the Orange County registrar of voters office certified Nov. 30. That count showed Duffield defeating challenger Tim Stoaks by 36 votes out of nearly 37,000 cast in the Nov. 6 election.

“The [recount] is darn expensive and we want to see if we have made any progress before we do any more,” Susan Skinner, one of the count’s chief organizers, said in an email Thursday night.

However, she said rumors that the count was ending were “greatly exaggerated.”


“We are going to see where we are on Monday and decide if we continue or not,” she said. “The registrar can’t review the ballots until Monday since he is out of town at a meeting this week.”

The recount began Wednesday, and the registrar of voters office reported Thursday evening that more than 6,300 ballots had been reviewed. The tallies for both candidates had thus far not changed, the office said.

Skinner said recount backers challenged 27 ballots over the two days.

“If we win half of them, we have a fighting chance to flip the race and will gear up to be back in business on Wednesday,” she said. “If we win three of those, we will wish everyone happy holidays and pack it in.”


Skinner said the cost of the effort, which must be borne by those who requested the recount, totals about $18,000 so far, including the registrar’s preparation for the recount, two days of counting and attorney fees.

That approaches the $25,000 Skinner has said the organizers raised for the recount from donations and pledges. She had estimated the daily cost would be $1,800.

The registrar would refund the payments if the recount changed the election outcome.

Swearing-in ceremony Sunday for new Assembly member

A community swearing-in ceremony will be held Sunday in Newport Beach for newly elected state Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris.

Petrie-Norris (D-Laguna Beach) defeated incumbent Matthew Harper (R-Huntington Beach) in the Nov. 6 election for the 74th District seat, representing Newport Beach, Laguna Beach, Costa Mesa, Huntington Beach, Irvine and Laguna Woods.

Sunday’s ceremony will be from 1:30 to 2 p.m. at the Marina Park Community Center, 1600 W. Balboa Blvd. Doors will open at 12:30 p.m. Retired federal judge Lynne Riddle will conduct the swearing-in.

Community members are invited to donate unwrapped toys to benefit area nonprofits.