BALDWIN PARK — Unofficial results of Tuesday's recall election have thrown the city into confusion.
Mayor Jack B. White and Councilman Leo W. King were ousted Tuesday, but a recall vote on the late Councilman Robert H. McNeill ended in a tie, possibly leaving the city with only two lawmakers to guide it until the vacancies are filled.
"There's just oodles of laws eating us up," City Clerk Linda Gair said Thursday as city officials tried to sort through the legalities.
According to unofficial results reported Tuesday, McNeill had been recalled by a margin of two votes, 1,284 to 1,282. But on Wednesday, after City Clerk Linda Gair validated two absentee ballots returned on election day, the results changed and he was not recalled.
The two votes opposed McNeill's recall, causing the tie and casting doubt on how the city will be run between now and July 14, when a special election will be held.
Under state law, McNeill's name had to appear on the ballot because it was on the recall petitions that forced the election.
Ironically, the bureaucratic mess would have been avoided if all three councilmen had been recalled in the vote prompted by anger over a city-imposed utility tax and a redevelopment project.
State law provides that if a majority of a council is recalled, those ousted can serve until their successors are chosen so that the council will still have a quorum.
But since only White and King were recalled, they will have to step down if the election results are confirmed next week, Gair said.
That would leave Councilmen Bobbie Izell and Rick Gibson to run the city until the election in July.
"We'll be operating under some real difficulties until the election" if the results stand, said City Atty. Robert Flandrick.
City officials believe that the two councilmen can conduct normal city business, including matters that now require three votes for approval, until the legalities are clarified.
The city has two possible courses of action, Izell said. Approval could be sought from the California Legislature to either allow Izell and Gibson to operate as a two-member council or let White and King remain in office until the special election.
Assemblywoman Sally Tanner (D-El Monte) has agreed to seek approval for whatever course the city chooses.
There could be problems if Izell and Gibson end up running the city by themselves and don't see eye to eye on a matter before the council, White said.
"If it means they don't agree on everything, it will be messy," he said.
But Izell does not foresee any difficulty.
"We don't expect any problem of any kind. The city of Baldwin Park is going to go on the same as ever."