SLO County clerk-recorder sues woman who requested District 2 recount

May 24, 2023

SLO County Clerk Recorder Elaina Cano


San Luis Obispo County Clerk-Recorder Elaina Cano is suing the North County woman who requested a recount of the District 2 supervisorial race that concluded with Supervisor Bruce Gibson narrowly winning reelection. [KSBY]

Cano alleges Darcia Stebbens owes $4,448.21 for unpaid recount costs, and as a result, the county has had to take that amount out of its general fund. Stebbens says she paid nearly the full amount the county billed her, and the clerk-recorder’s office failed to hand over documents related the recount, in addition to conducting the tally in a non-transparent manner and failing to provide accounting of costs.

Gibson defeated challenger Dr. Bruce Jones by just 13 votes in the November election, prompting Stebbens to request the recount. Cano’s office recounted six of the 27 District 2 precincts with no change in the results. Stebbens terminated the recount prior to completion, noting issues with transparency.

Before the recount was halted, Clerk-Recorder Elaina Cano agreed to count one ballot that her staff had failed to properly tally. The contested ballot did not end up being tallied in the recount. 

Stebbens had been paying her estimated daily deposit, but those were just estimates, Cano said. The estimates were just a ballpark of what Cano thought each day would cost.

After the tally ended, the clerk-recorder’s office issued Stebbens an invoice totaling the cost of the recount at $52,325.74.

Cano says her office issued at least three letters to Stebbens before resorting to filling a lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed on May 1. 

Stebbens issued a statement this week challenging the clerk-recorder’s accounting.

“It’s very simple, we paid an initial deposit of $16,995 plus estimated costs on a daily basis,” Stebbens said. “Ms. Cano gave me a final ‘true-up’ amount of over $7,000. I had a question about the costs, asked for a breakdown of the amounts and county counsel indicated they were not required to provide a detailed invoice. Additionally, there were documents and ‘relevant materials’ the county has not provided, presumably we have already been charged for these.”

Stebbens said she made a good faith payment of approximately $2,900 for all amounts she could determine were incurred prior to halting the recount. 

Cano issued a statement of her own, disputing Stebbens’ claims.

“There is no provision in the law that requires us to provide her with a detailed list of exactly what the staff was doing each hour that was charged,” Cano said. “The law says if there is somebody that wants to come forward and request the recount, it’s their responsibility to pay for the actual costs that are incurred in conducting that and administering the recounts so that the taxpayers don’t have to foot the bill for that.”

A court date in the case is set for July 14. 

Previously, Stebbens requested a recount for the June 2022 District 4 vote in which Supervisor Jimmy Paulding unseated incumbent Lynn Compton. Stebbens paid for the full cost of the District 4 recount, the clerk-recorder’s office says. 

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Stealing from the taxpayers! Is what the right wing commentary would say if the shoe was on the other foot. I for one agree – time to pay what’s due, no free lunches for election skeptics.

I’m shocked they didn’t send her a bill for Gibson’s raise over the next 2 years…oh wait, we all pay for that..

God forbid we know what we’re paying for. I don’t pay an invoice without knowing what I was charged for. This will cost the county way more than the $4k. Nothing to see here, again.

It’s not about the money it’s about power and control ,standard Government protocall

”The county had to take $4,448.21 from the general fund. Please what a stupid argument.

How dare someone expect complete detailed information about how we government types spend your money