Election confusion resolved: Sayre, Mederos officially councilmembers

The city of Tulare works with the county to resolve November election troubles regarding councilmembers Terry Sayre, Dennis Mederos

TULARE – After a once and a blue moon occurrence flagged Tulare City Council elections in November, the city and the county worked together to finally find a resolution.

On April 11 the Tulare County Board of Supervisors adopted a resolution approving findings that deemed Terry Sayre was elected to city council district 2 and Dennis Mederos was elected to city council district 4. There was an oversight that stated even though the two were running unopposed, they still needed to be put on the ballot. Following the board’s resolution, at the May 2 Tulare City Council meeting, results from the November 2022 election were then certified by the city and the confusion surrounding the election was resolved. Sayre and Mederos were sworn in and formally seated to the dais.

“Everything is cleared up, they are seated, they have taken the oath of office and they are serving their four year terms,” deputy city manager Josh McDonnell said. “[They] will be done [serving] in December 2026.”

Typically under the election code, those running for office who are running unopposed are not put on the ballot. It is assumed the community has “good faith” in the incumbents as no one else is running in the opposition. However, there are special circumstances which require their names to be placed on the ballot regardless.

One of those circumstances is if there is a city wide measure on the ballot and this year Tulare residents voted on Measure Y, the cannabis tax. The Tulare County Registrar of Voters, not the city of Tulare or the candidates, decided to not include either Sayre or Mederos on the November ballot. McDonnell said they worked with the county in a “friendly lawsuit,” and they were able to find a resolution without having to go to court. He said it only took a while for all parties involved to figure out the proper language.

“The Tulare County Board of Supervisors adopted a resolution that basically confirms that Dennis and Terry filed all their papers appropriately, nobody ran against them, and therefore they are the city council members,” McDonnell said. “It was all friendly, we figured it out and no action by the court was necessary.”

In a press release from the city, the city of Tulare acknowledged the efforts of the County of Tulare to find and reach a mutually agreeable solution that clearly reflects the fact that both individuals ran in unopposed elections.

As far as looking to the future goes, it is up to the Registrar of Voters and the city clerk in each city to make sure all the circumstances are right. That even if individuals are running unopposed and paperwork is filed and all other pieces are in place, are there any other circumstances to look out for. McDonnell said this situation could happen again, but not for quite some time.

“I mean, this is going to happen again, maybe 100 years,” McDonnell said. “It was an incredibly rare instance that all these little things added up together.”

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