Voters will take to the polls Tuesday in a radical attempt to remake the Hercules City Council, and whatever the outcome of that effort might be, one thing is certain: It won’t be cheap.
By May 21, the candidates vying for three seats on the council had spent almost $42,000, a tab likely to climb higher when the final campaign statements are made public after the election.
also will cost city taxpayers. How much will depend on how many ballots are cast and other factors.
If every one of the city’s registered voters were to cast a ballot next week, the special election could end up costing the city more than $72,000.
County elections officials say the costs of the Hercules recall election are not based upon actual turnout, but on actual costs of the election. Some of these costs are calculated on a per-registered-voter basis and others on a per-precinct basis. Thus when total costs are ultimately calculated for Tuesday's election and broken down on a per-voter basis, they could exceed $5 per vote.
Actual costs, including signature verification on recall petitions, producing sample and official ballots, operation of polling places and other expenses, won;t be fully calculated until August.
Given that the recent turnout in Hercules for presidential elections has ranged between 80 and 90 percent, Tuesday's election is likely to have lower participation.
If only 50 percent of voters decide to cast a ballot, the special election could cost the city about $38,000. That includes $3,900 already spent for the verification of signatures on the recall petition, according to City Clerk Doreen Mathews.
At stake are three seats on the Hercules City Council. One belonged to former Mayor and longtime Councilman Ed Balico. He from office in January during a meeting of the council, minutes before being handed his recall notice.
The other seats, both contested, belong to:
- , who was first elected to the council in 2000
- , who was elected in 2008
If they are unseated, their successors would serve out the remainder of their terms, which expire next year.
The committee supporting the recall of Kuehne and Ward took the lead in fundraising, reporting total contributions of $8,463, about 20 percent of which came from the candidates seeking office themselves.
, who is looking to take Kuehne’s seat, reported $940 worth of non-monetary contributions to the recall committee.
Dan Romero, whose wife, Lori, serves as treasurer, kicked in another $500. He is competing with local bar owner and for the seat surrendered by Balico.
And , who is sharing a fundraising committee with Boulanger, donated $400 to the recall effort. Wilkins also loaned $2,116 to that shared campaign fund, a little less than the $2,748 Boulanger loaned it.
Wilkins and are competing for the seat long held by Ward in the event she is recalled.
The Committee to Retain Ward came in a close second for fundraising totals to date with contributions of $8,269 through May 21 – $8,000 of which Ward donated herself.
Anton Jungherr, an educational consultant who helped launch the recall committee, emerged as the largest single individual contributor. He donated a total of $2,000 – $1,000 to the committee to elect Boulanger and Wilkins, $500 to Dan Romero’s campaign, $250 in cash to the recall committee and another $250 in non-monetary donations.
The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) also donated $2,000 – all of it to Kuehne’s campaign against the recall, which got its funding from labor, save for a $3,000 loan from Kuehne himself.
All candidates and committees involved in the recall have received $44,806 in contributions and loans. They have spent $41,782, and there is $17,379 in outstanding debt that has not been repaid.
Bob Porterfield contributed to this report.