So, is candidate 63, 69 or 73 years old?

In 1984, President Ronald Reagan, the oldest man ever to occupy the White House, quipped during a debate with Walter Mondale that he wouldn't make an issue of his opponent's "youth and inexperience."

Few in Huntington Beach would doubt City Councilman Joe Carchio's experience. A longtime business owner in Surf City, Carchio was elected to the council in 2006 and is the only incumbent among 21 candidates in this year's council race.

But there appears to be some confusion in town — and at the Orange County Registrar of Voters — about the councilman's age.

On various documents over the last few years, Carchio has been listed under at least four different ages — although the councilman said he has never made a secret of his age and didn't know the source of the confusion.

Carchio's profile on the Huntington Beach Downtown Residents Assn.'s website, which lists basic facts about each candidate, pegs him at 63.

Voter registration, however, lists Carchio as having been born March 24, 1941, which would make him 69.

Meanwhile, an alumni website showing the class of 1955 at Irvington High School in New Jersey includes a Joseph Carchio identified as the owner of Jersey Joe's Italian Deli in Huntington Beach — which would put his age about 73.

It's not the first time Carchio's age has caused confusion. Anyone keeping a scrapbook of the Huntington Beach Independent's articles may have gotten puzzled about his age. In 2000, during Carchio's first run for the council, the paper listed his age as 53. Two years later, when Carchio ran again, he was listed as 57, only to shoot up to 63 when he ran two years later. This year, Carchio has not returned a questionnaire for the election section of hbindependent.com.

In 2006, the year of his election, he gave his age to the paper as "over 50 and proud of it." Every other candidate profiled in the same article gave a specific age.

When Carchio was contacted Friday, though, he confirmed his age as 73 and said he didn't know where the other information came from. He added, though, that he considered his age a negligible matter.

"I've usually just said when someone asks, 'I'm a senior citizen,'" said Carchio, who gave his official birth date as March 24, 1937. "I don't think age really has anything to do with anything."

Carchio said he didn't know why the Orange County Registrar of Voters gave his birth year as 1941 or why the Independent has listed at least three different ages for him over the last decade. A spokesman for the Registrar confirmed that his birth year on voting records is 1941, making him 69.

"I'm sorry if there was some sort of miscommunication," Carchio said. "But I am who I am, and that's it."

Kim Kramer, the spokesman for the Downtown Residents Assn., said he got the information about each candidate from the Local News, a community newspaper owned by former Mayor Dave Garofalo. Kramer ran the information by each candidate to ensure its accuracy, and Carchio made no objection, he said.

Carchio did not return a call Friday asking for clarification.

Before long, Kramer said, someone pointed out the discrepancy in Carchio's age, but he didn't consider it important.

"I didn't think about it [when Carchio approved the information]," he said. "Then someone brought it to my attention, and I dismissed it."

Garofalo said in an e-mail that his paper had run incorrect information, but added that he wasn't sure how the error occurred. His staff had to juggle dozens of requests for information among the 20 candidates then in the race, he said.

"It could have been as much our fault as any of the responders," Garofalo said.

City spokeswoman Laurie Payne said the city had no public records available regarding Carchio's birth date.

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