Some Oakmonters held their breath Monday as 16 volunteers from outside the Santa Rosa retirement community recounted almost 2,000 ballots cast in the election that bestowed power over the homeowners’ association to foes of the bitterly contested project to build pickleball courts next to the central pool.
The nearly 40 Oakmont residents observing the recount exhaled as election monitor James Ernst announced the findings: The vote tally did change, but not the outcome. The four candidates for the Oakmont Village Association governing board who won in the first count also prevailed in the second.
Three of the four — Carolyn Bettencourt, Ken Heyman and Greg Goodwin — ran as a slate opposed to the construction of a pickleball complex alongside the Berger Center pool. So the recount drives another nail into the coffin of the pickleball project.
Today, the three new directors whose election was confirmed by Monday’s recount will attend their first full meeting of the OVA board. Along with the panel’s new president, Ellen Leznik, the new directors are expected to commence an effort to terminate the construction contract.
Members of the new board majority seek to locate pickleball courts permanently at one, the other or both of the east Santa Rosa retirement community’s existing tennis courts.
Monday’s recount included 16 ballots that in the original tally were considered ineligible. Those ballots could have changed the outcome, as fewer than 16 votes separated the tallies of anti-pickleball project candidates Goodwin and Bettencourt from project advocate Al Medeiros.
But the new count spread the distance: In Monday’s tally, Medeiros trailed Goodwin by 18 votes, Bettencourt by 20.
“I am very pleased,” new OVA board president Leznik said shortly after the recount.
“I have always trusted our (original) counters and knew that they did a good job.”
MAYOR IN THE SQUARE: The mended Old Courthouse Square will be dedicated at a public celebration on April 29.
Two days later, Mayor Chris Coursey will eat lunch in the square. He asks us to join him.
My friend and former Press Democrat colleague intends to carry his sack lunch into the remade, no longer halved square at noon every first and third Monday. He hopes to see it come alive.
“I’m going to use it and I’m going to encourage other people to use it,” Chris said. “If anybody wants to join me (for lunch) to enjoy the square or talk about what’s going on in Santa Rosa, I will be there.”
IT COULD BE BUSY in Old Courthouse Square on April 29.
Mayor Coursey and the PD’s Gaye LeBaron are set to address the re-opening celebration that will run from 12:30 to 4 p.m.
A march and rally in opposition to the actions of President Trump is scheduled to arrive in the square from Roseland Plaza between 3 and 3:30 p.m.
So for a time that Saturday afternoon, the combined attractions could include food carts, a beer-wine garden, live music, dancers, a farm market, kids’ activities and calls to the Trump administration to defend workers’ rights, the climate, public lands and members of marginalized communities.
The first big public day for the new Old Courthouse Square could be quite a day.