Update: The third challenge to the ERNC elections, filed by Shauna Smith, appears to have been redacted by election authorities without an explanation on the Empower LA website.
Five days after one of the most dramatic and contentious electoral contests in the history of L.A.’s neighborhood councils, city authorities finalized the results of the Eagle Rock Neighborhood Council elections but were yet to make a decision about several challenges regarding the validity of the Oct. 13 vote .
On Thursday night, the elections division of the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment posted the names and designations of the individuals who comprise the new ERNC Board on the Empower LA website.
The website also featured a new challenge to the legitimacy of the elections, raising to three the number of such challenges.
The latest challenge, filed Thursday night, was from a stakeholder identified as an Eagle Rock resident named Shauna Smith. According to the stakeholder’s complaint, which was posted on the Empower LA website Friday but appears to have been struck out without an explanation over the weekend, the results of the ERNC elections were “compromised through unethical and illegal acts before and during the election.”
The complaint alleges that a medical marijuana dispensary located in the Rampart area of Los Angeles distributed flyers that offered individuals $40 worth of marijuana if they voted for certain candidates whose names were printed on the flyers. The names on the flyers pertained to a slate of candidates running under the Progress & Collaboration banner led by presidential candidate Nelson Grande II.
The distribution of such flyers—and the inducements contained in them—are a violation of the California Election Code (section 18522), according to the complaint. The complaint demanded that candidates listed on the flyer who won in the election should be deemed as either having committed “voting irregularities” or their victories termed “unverifiable.”
The latter option would allow the incoming ERNC board to resolve the issue “either through affirmation of the election results” or to appoint other board member to fill the contested positions, the complaint proposed.
On Monday, Mark Haskell Smith, an Eagle Rock resident who ran unsuccessfully for the post of Sub-District 5 director under the Progress & Collaboration banner, also challenged the validity of the ERNC elections.
Smith has alleged that he and other candidates from his P&C slate were slandered by Peter Hilton, a former member of the ERNC, and that outgoing President Michael Larsen violated election rules by endorsing a slate of candidates he privately backed.
• See all the three challenges in the attached PDFs and on the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment website.
Tosca Garner, an election administrator at the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment, told Eagle Rock Patch that Stephen Box, DONE’s project coordinator for Neighborhood Council elections, was still working on the complaints along with his staff.
Box told Eagle Rock Patch this past Monday that it could take 14 days to resolve a complaint from the time it is received.
Meanwhile, outgoing ERNC President Larsen said the new board will be seated Nov. 13 at Eagle Rock City Hall.
“It was a memorable election on many levels, but the thing that stands out for me is the sight of so many Eagle Rockers pouring into City Hall to make their voices heard and participate in the future of our great neighborhood,” Larsen said.
“It was difficult at times, but we are a stronger community for having gone through the process,” Larsen added. “I want to thank all the candidates for putting themselves on the line, and congratulate the new board members for stepping forward in service."
Correction: The initial version of this story reported that the third challenge to the ERNC elections, filed by Shauna Smith, was filed Friday, as per the date at the top of the PDF file posted by Empower LA. A caller on Smith's behalf has informed Eagle Rock Patch that the challenge was, in fact, filed Thursday night. (As noted in the article above, the challenge appears to have been redacted by Empower LA for unspecified reasons.)