Tangney, Guma Vote to Validate Tie

District counsel explains options to school board in wake of election recount.

The outcome of the tie between Gina Guma and Darlene Tangney in Long Beach Board of Education election could have come down to the district clerk Carole Butler, but the incumbent candidates ultimately voted to validate the tie.

Tangney disputed the validity of one absentee ballot for Guma in Tuesday’s election in which both candidates received 1,618 votes, contending that that it is unclear how the person checked off the ballot, putting the vote in dispute. If Guma was to lose the vote, she would lose the at-large bid, dropping her vote total to 1,617. Neil Block, an attorney for district counsel, said the district clerk has the responsibility to ascertain the results of the election and report those to the school board.

“A candidate who believes that there has been an irregularity, the recourse is for the candidate to take the appeal to the [state] commissioner of education indicating that he or she believes that the results of the election are not valid,” Block said. “But for the purposes of the board, the law does state that there is a presumption of validity with respect to the election, and the board is certainly able to certify the results as declared by the district clerk.”  

Block explained to the school board the intricacies of election law, procedures and options regarding the tie vote at the Long Beach Middle School on Wednesday, when all the trustees voted to accept the results of the budget vote and election, including the tie between the incumbent candidates.

“I am contesting one of the ballots,” Tangney said when Ryan originally called for a vote to accept the tie for the second trustee seat in the election, before Block arrived at the meeting. “So, I’m not quite sure how you’re going to proceed.”

Block noted that if the district clerk said the disputed ballot is valid, the tie would stand up, but Tangney could then take her dispute to the state education commissioner. Block added that if the commissioner determined that it was invalid, he could order a new election. “It’s very possible that he could order a reelection,” he said.

In a run-off election, only Guma and Tangney would enter as candidates. Stewart Mininsky, who received the highest vote total (1,699), would be exempt. The election would have to be held 45 days from the original election, or before the new school year starts on July 1. A new election is estimated to cost the district at least $15,000, according to Butler.

However, after Block answered the board trustees’ many questions, the trustees went into executive session, and on their return all five trustees – including Tangney and Guma – voted to accept the voter totals and the tie between the two candidates, thereby validating the results.

When the polls were closed and the votes counted Tuesday night, the district did not release the vote tallies because they wanted the Nassau County Board of Elections to verify about 18 affidavit and absentee ballots, making sure that some residents were eligible to vote at particular polling sites. Board trustees and Butler visited the eight polling sites, read the numbers off each machine and counted the absentee ballots and affidavits. “After at least three recounts, the totals for Mrs. Tangney and Mrs. Guma both came in at 1,618,” Ryan said. “So, leave it to Long Beach. This is very unprecedented, very surreal.”

Ryan explained that with seniors and people with disabilities, who often use absentee ballots and affidavits, their marks sometimes go astray and it is unclear who is receiving their votes. “The one Mrs. Tangney is challenging, was such a ballot,” Ryan said. “It wasn’t clear, I guess to Mrs. Tangney and others who saw the ballot, whether it was a valid vote or the persons whose names were checked on that ballot.”

Block believes he observed the ballot in question, and said: “Based on my experience of practicing that area of the law … that is a ballot that would be interpreted by the commissioner of education as a valid ballot.

The school board will work with the state education department and the district counsel, as well as the candidates, to try to resolve the matter in the coming days, and will update the community at Tuesday’s work session at the middle school, Ryan said. 

“We are going to explore the options of the run-off,” he said. “ … We’re going to do our best to expedite it and truncate it so that it doesn’t become a financial burden to the community. So hopefully by next Tuesday, at our next meeting, we’ll have more information about that.”

* This story was updated at 11:58 a.m. on 5.18.12.

joanne May 17, 2012 at 10:08 PM
A tie is a tie, what has been past practice for breaking the tie? I have an idea leave the seat EMPTY neither one deserve it.
joanne May 17, 2012 at 10:13 PM
Yeah there on team TITANIC Tagney is the Capt. and Guma the first mate.....we all know how that ended...every man for themselves Tagney's true colors showing through, just wish she fought this hard for the citizens of LB as she does for herself.
Nancy Mc. May 17, 2012 at 11:35 PM
Guma should get the seat. She is a good woman. Tangney is a power hungry, wanna be politician, she is in it for herself, not the kids. But considering her husband is the LB Police Commissioner who oversees the election at the polls they will rig the run off election and she will win by many votes.
Neutron May 18, 2012 at 12:08 AM
It seems Ms. Tangney is not going to accept the results gracefully and is resorting to procedural sleight of hand. If she is so confident in her positions, why not face Ms. Guma fair and square in a runoff and let the voters decide?
Richiepd May 18, 2012 at 12:38 AM
Tangney lost fair and square. Gina one. Let Mininsky and Guma join the board and work on bettering our schools. Tangney is only interested in promoting herself and her personal power hungry agenda. If she insist on a runoff lets get out the vote and once again tell her no thank you.
Candygram for Mongo May 18, 2012 at 12:49 AM
Everybody hates Tangney. What's up with that? She is that despicable? Am asking because I don't know
Richard Boodman May 18, 2012 at 12:56 AM
You are not The Real Bear.
Misty May 18, 2012 at 01:57 AM
Misty May 18, 2012 at 02:01 AM
Just look at her behavior in the past 3 weeks. That's who she has always been. Self serving, condescending and power hungry. I'm not a fan.
K May 18, 2012 at 04:32 AM
Stirring the pot?
Mr Dunes May 18, 2012 at 05:44 AM
Joanne, maybe We can change the analogy to the Costa Concordia?
Gordo May 18, 2012 at 10:55 AM
I'm sorry you are missing the point the election was a tie, neither woman won. tagney is disputing one vote which tip scales in her favor.
LB TAXPAYA May 18, 2012 at 11:41 AM
Unbelievable, Let's not make a mountain out of a mole-hill! How much will a run-off cost the taxpayers? Whoever lost accept defeat & move on!
The real bear May 18, 2012 at 12:10 PM
Rich....the adults are speaking
JP Ashcroft May 18, 2012 at 12:37 PM
For all those involved in the process: do us a favor and settle this the least costly way. If the district has to hold a special election it's going to cost $20,000 according to the school board. Really, it's an unpaid position and perhaps the non-winner can go home and spend more time with 'friends and family".
Lala May 18, 2012 at 01:01 PM
That's an awful lot of pressure to place on the clerk, even though *procedurally speaking* it is the right way to do it. There should be a run-off, IMO. Let the voters decide. Methinks Ms. T. does not want a run-off, as her conduct, especially lately, has turned many people off. We shall see!
MikeC. May 18, 2012 at 02:03 PM
Here's hoping that these two don't work in the same room at LBMC. There won't be any need for AC in that room!
ADNK May 18, 2012 at 02:23 PM
run-offs are very expensive. LB isn't exactly flush.
ADNK May 18, 2012 at 02:25 PM
um . . . absentee ballots are not signed. Secret ballot is kind of an American norm...
SeanyA May 18, 2012 at 03:02 PM
Are you going to pay for the run-off Lala?
Kasey May 18, 2012 at 06:01 PM
"awful lot of pressure" the clerk enters that position to perform specific duties-pressure? cant agree, that is the clerks job
Candygram for Mongo May 18, 2012 at 06:36 PM
Guma Guma Guma Guma.....
John May 18, 2012 at 08:11 PM
considering the track record of the Board, I would think we would want the person who's least infected by the status quo.
John May 18, 2012 at 08:13 PM
about $15,000. While not a huge number, I imaging it could be put to better use elsewhere.
Lloyd May 18, 2012 at 08:54 PM
Have a real runoff on the City streets featuring the two candidates. Have them run from the HS to Tutti Frutti. Winner takes all.
Lloyd May 18, 2012 at 09:59 PM
Loser buys.
Leonard Bauman May 19, 2012 at 12:46 AM
Lloyd for City Council 2012
Disgusted Homeowner May 19, 2012 at 02:37 AM
Good one Lloyd LOL
Disgusted Homeowner May 19, 2012 at 02:39 AM
Best woman should step aside Old Irish saying, "Class will tell" If you have it will show.
CaathieO May 19, 2012 at 03:19 AM
I like Tagney!


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