35 Votes Separate Costa Mesa Mayor from Challenger

The drama over control of Costa Mesa City Hall has intensified, with Mayor Jim Righeimer’s lead over opponent Jay Humphrey dropping from 112 votes on Thursday to just 35 on Monday evening.

That’s a margin of 0.1 percent of votes cast in the council race. It’s unclear how many votes remain to be counted.

At stake is control over Costa Mesa’s city government, with Righeimer’s seat being the tipping point of the three-member council majority, which has sought to outsource numerous city services in recent years.

Their efforts attracted national headlines in 2011, when the newly-elected council majority issued layoff notices to nearly half of the city’s employees.

Court rulings and other limitations, however, have blocked the vast majority of that outsourcing from taking place.

The council majority responded by asking voters to approve a city charter in 2012, which could have allowed them to outsource a broader set of city services than currently allowed.

But that charter proposal was rejected, with voters rejecting a second charter attempt last week.

A recount is possible if a small vote margin separates the candidates when the results are certified, which is expected to take place late this week.

Updated vote tallies are posted every day at 5 p.m. at this webpage.

You can reach Nick Gerda at ngerda@gmail.com, and follow him on Twitter: @nicholasgerda.

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