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Orange County

Race for Supervisor May Hang on the Mail

County must receive Tom Coad's new voter registration form for him to be a candidate.

November 21, 2002|Jean O. Pasco | Times Staff Writer

The future makeup of the Board of Supervisors remained in doubt Wednesday as officials awaited the delivery of a sheet of paper that could affect who becomes the next supervisor.

Tom Coad, husband of board Chairwoman Cynthia P. Coad, said he put a voter registration form in the mail Sunday reflecting a new northern Tustin address, which would allow him to run in a winner-take-all election next year for an open seat in District 3.

The seat was abruptly vacated Tuesday by Todd Spitzer, who resigned rather than wait until Dec. 2, when he'll be sworn in as the county's newest member to the state Assembly.

By leaving early, Spitzer moved up the date of the election to replace him -- and the 30-day residency requirement for candidates. Election officials said Tom Coad's new registration would need to have been received by Saturday to qualify him. As of late Wednesday, they hadn't seen it.

County Counsel Ben de Mayo, at the Coads' request, was researching whether the law applies to the date of receipt or to the postmark. "We need to see the postmark," he said. "It's still an open question."

Given the uncertainty of the situation, few of those involved talked about it Wednesday. Neither Spitzer nor the Coads returned phone calls seeking comment.

Much of the county's Republican establishment has backed 71st District Assemblyman Bill Campbell -- Spitzer's predecessor -- for the nonpartisan job. Spitzer's early exit helps Campbell by possibly eliminating Coad as a challenger in an election that also includes Orange Councilman Mike Alvarez, said one political observer.

"[Spitzer] obviously wants Bill Campbell to win the election," said Chapman University political science professor Fred Smoller.

Spitzer hasn't officially endorsed anyone.

There's also a question of Tom Coad's new address.

The couple have lived for decades in western Anaheim but are building a new house in northern Tustin. The home isn't ready to live in, so Tom Coad rented a neighbor's guest house.

There's also a question of when the election will be held. Under a new county law approved in March by voters, Cynthia Coad, as the board's chairwoman, must call the special election within three business days of a vacancy.

That gives her until Friday.

But de Mayo is researching whether she can wait until Spitzer is sworn in to his new post.

Coad's time on the board is fleeting: She lost her seat in March and will be replaced in January by Chris Norby of Fullerton.

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