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Dead Sheriff Wins Election; New Vote Set For ’87

June 24, 1986

REDWOOD CITY, Calif. (AP) _ A sheriff’s candidate who lost an election to a dead incumbent maintains he was a victor even though he was outpolled by a 4-to-1 margin.

Security guard Jim White received 20,839 votes, or 20 percent, in the June 3 election to Sheriff Brendan Maguire’s 81,679 or 79 percent, in results announced Monday by San Mateo County.

But White said he won a different kind of victory with his court fight to force the county to hold the election as scheduled despite Maguire’s death of a heart attack April 21.

″I’m clearly the victor,″ he declared. ″I was able to keep the county from tampering with sacred electoral process.

″I think people voted for the special election, which is what the law is intended to do,″ White said. ″Who wins or loses an election as not as important as keeping the system pure, intact and in accordance with the rules.″

After Maguire’s death, county supervisors asked the Legislature to postpone the election until August, which it did.

But White went to court over the issue, and the state Supreme Court ruled the election had to take place as scheduled, with the results to be sealed pending an appeal. The state Court of Appeal later ordered the ballots counted, ruling voters had a choice even if one of the candidates was dead. It ruled the Legislature’s action unconstitutional.

Seven write-in candidates got the remaining 1 percent of the vote. County clerk Marvin Church said the results force a special election next March 2. White, a guard at the U.S. Mint, vowed to run in the new election.

Undersheriff Leonard Cardoza has acted as sheriff since Maguire’s death. He has said he also would run in the special election with the backing of Maguire’s campaign staff.

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