Charter Review Board candidate Kathy Bolam was unsuccessful in her quest to get a recount in her primary election race.
The canvassing board voted 2 to 1 to reject a recount.
But Bolam is not giving up that easily. She plans to file a complaint with the state.
Bolam lost her District 3 race by 151 votes to incumbent Adam Miller. Because she lost by less than 0.5%, state law requires a recount.
According to Bolam, Supervisor of Elections Kathy Dent called her the day after the election and told her about the law.
“(Dent) assured me that her staff would do the recount but she said I would probably only pick up 10 or 15 votes,” said Bolam. “I didn’t want to cost the taxpayers any money.”
Three hours after that phone call, Bolam sent Dent an e-mail saying she was conceding the election. Dent replied that her staff thanked her for the weekend off.
Several hours later, Bolam began hearing from her supporters, who urged her to stay in the race.
Bolam sent another e-mail, this time saying that she wanted to rescind her earlier decision. She began to feel Dent improperly tried to influence her decision.
The three-member canvass board discussed the issue at its Aug. 30 meeting.
“There’s no harm in doing a recount,” said County Commissioner Carolyn Mason, a canvassing board member.
But the other two members, Dent and Judge Emanuel Logalbo, felt differently.
Before Bolam made her initial decision to withdraw, she told Dent that she was going to check with Joe Gruters, chairman of the Republican Party of Sarasota County.
Gruters told her that he agreed that making up 151 votes was unlikely.
Logalbo said because Bolam conferred with someone else before conceding the race, it diminished her argument that Dent influenced her decision.
“I would discount the idea there was an influence,” Logalbo said.
Dent cited an appeals court decision that rejected a candidate’s similar change of mind in a Miami-Dade election.
“We can’t cave every time we have pressure and give in to mob rule,” she said.
The board members called the Florida Division of Elections. The state’s response was that it was too late to do a recount now, because the official results have to be certified Aug. 31.
Dent estimated it would take two days to conduct the recount.
On that advice from the state, the board took its vote.
After the meeting, Bolam wondered if Dent should have had a vote.
“She should have recused herself,” Bolam said.
Dent insisted that she did nothing improper by calling Bolam after the election.
“How else is she going to know the law?” she asked. “I did not try to influence her.”
Contact Robin Roy at [email protected].