2020 Election Update | Two City Council Seats Still Up in Air for South Pasadena

SOUTH PASADENA, CA: While ballots are still being counted, the results of some of the local election's more hotly contested seats remain undetermined

It’s unclear how much longer South Pasadenans will have to wait to learn the final results from Tuesday night’s undecided local races.

Evelyn Zneimer, South Pasadena’s elected City Clerk, was leading by only 15 votes in her effort to unseat Mayor Robert “Bob” Joe in the battle for City Council District 1, while the race between District 2 candidates John “Jack” Donovan and Stephen Rossi won’t be known until the County gets around to reporting write-in candidates.

Both races could still go either way, said Ed Donnelly, a South Pasadenan who has worked on eight local city campaigns over the past 10 years.

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The Los Angeles Register-Recorder/County Clerk doesn’t stop counting votes on election night. The rules give it another 30 days to tally provisional, write-in and damaged ballots and vote-by-mail ballots received on election day.

But the County’s already counted most ballots, so while it could take 30 days, “I would assume it can get through that tranche of write-in, damaged and other ballots fairly quickly,” Donnelly said.

As of Thursday evening, Zneimer had 1,212 (50.31%) votes to Joe’s 1,197 (49.69%), There are 3,709 registered voters in District 1.

Rossi, the merger and acquisition expert-turned-politician who initiated his sudden write-in campaign two weeks after his Sept. 2 appointment to the District 2 seat vacated due to the resignation of Dr. Marina Khubesrian, will have to overcome the 1,298 votes already logged by Donovan, the 39-year resident who stepped in last July to challenge Khubesrian.

Donnelly said he knew of no precedent over the last 20 years for a successful write-in candidate in South Pasadena, noting they are “fairly uncommon.” He said of District 2’s registered voters, 2,868 returned ballots, leaving 1,570 unaccounted for. Rossi would have to get at least 81 percent of those votes to win. Moreover, there is no telling how many of those voters even checked off a box for City Council, he noted.

“It’s an enormous challenge (for him) to be competitive,” Donnelly acknowledged. But he was appointed with considerable and vocal support and has run an impressive campaign. “The enormous support he had on social media was telling.”



Ben Tansey
Ben Tansey is a journalist and author. He grew up in the South Bay and is a graduate of Evergreen State College. He worked in Washington State as a reporter in a rural timber community and for many years as an editor for a Western electric energy policy publication based in Seattle.