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Disputed Vernon election: Final count swings win to Reno Bellamy

The final 10 ballots in Vernon’s controversial June council election were counted Monday, swinging the race in favor of candidate Reno Bellamy.

The Los Angeles County registrar reviewed the ballots earlier this month in response to challenges from the Vernon Chamber of Commerce, which claimed the votes were cast illegally by people who did not actually live in the industrial city. Some of the same individuals in question had their ballots thrown out in Vernon’s April council election, which was overseen by the city.

But the registrar’s office determined there was insufficient evidence to dismiss the ballots, and tallied them Monday afternoon. Bellamy garnered all 10 of the votes and surged to a 34-30 victory over candidate Luz Martinez, who had been supported by the Chamber of Commerce.

Though all the votes have now been counted, the ultimate outcome of the race remains unclear, as the Chamber has vowed to pursue further legal action.

Bellamy, an employee in the city of Corona who moved to Vernon in 2010, said he was anxiously checking the registrar’s website Monday until the results finally appeared just after 4 p.m.

“Is it over? Just tell me it’s over,” he said to a Times reporter Monday evening. “I feel like I won fair and square.”

Vernon’s two council elections had been viewed as a key milestone for the city, which was almost disincorporated by the state Legislature last year. Critics of the city have in the past argued that it cannot function as a legitimate democracy because of its extremely small residential population.

-- Sam Allen


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