Headding a winner in Morro Bay council race
June 18, 2014
Two days after incumbent Councilwoman Nancy Johnson announced she was conceding her bid for the final seat on the Morro Bay City Council, the city of Morro Bay announced that pharmacist John Heading had won the position outright.
In the final tally conducted by county elections officials, Headding’s name appeared on 49.09 percent of ballots. But, 123 Morro Bay voters left the city council section of their ballots blank.
Interim City Attorney Joseph Pannone ruled Tuesday that the city should not count the blanks. The change in the vote count bumped Headding’s total to 50.7 percent, giving him the majority needed to secure a council seat in the primary election.
In a memo sent to Morro Bay officials, Pannone said he based his decision off of an elections code that states votes should not be counted if the choice of the voter is impossible to determine.
“A voter’s silence cannot be used to determine that voter’s intent,” Pannone wrote.
June’s election marked the third primary held by the city of Morro Bay. It was the first in which the results of the council race could have swung based on the city’s interpretation of election code.
Heading, the owner of Morro Bay Drug and Gift, will join the council in November, along with Matt Makowetski, who received votes on more than 60 percent of ballots in the primary.
Johnson, whose term will end in December, said in a media release Sunday that she would forego a runoff election in order to saved the city money and avoid more dirty politics. Though she could have opted not to campaign, elections code would have required that Johnson’s name appear on the ballot had the city not named Headding a winner.