Special Election to Cost County $1.2 Million

Santa Barbara county taxpayers will be charged $1.2 million to cover the costs of two special election this summer—called by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger—for which only 40,000 county residents are registered to vote. Nothing in state law indicates the county will be reimbursed by the state for these expenses.

When State Senator Abel Maldonado, a moderate Republican, was appointed Lt. Governor last week, that created a vacancy in the senate. County elections officials say they’re still waiting to be paid for the $1 million in expenses incurred during the 2009 special elections—also ordered by Schwarzenegger—for a host of budgetary initiatives. Rather than wait till November, when a spate of federal, state, and county positions are already up for grabs, the governor ordered the special elections—the primary taking place June 22 and the run-off August 17—arguing he needed a full compliment of legislators for budget deliberations. Democrats sniped that the governor was worried that Republican candidates would be more vulnerable in November, and stood a better chance in a special election.

The Senate District in question, the 15th, is widely regarded as a swing district. Currently, Sam Blakeslee, a Republican assemblymember from San Luis Obispo, and John Laird, a Democrat from Santa Cruz, are vying to fill Maldonado’s vacancy.

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