We're going to fill this week's paper with tributes and memories of a unique, historical figure in Humboldt County. But we can't ignore the fact that this tragedy takes place at a time when Roger Rodoni was running for re-election. People are confused about what happens next, and we believe that we finally have the answers.
First of all, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has the power to appoint someone to fill the remainder or Rodoni's term. He could also choose to fill the seat only until the results of the next election are certified, and a clear winner is chosen. Schwarzenegger is currently accepting applications from Second District residents interested in filling the seat, and Johanna Rodoni, Roger's wife, has applied.
In the matter of the upcoming election, things get sticky. But several county staffers held a meeting to hash things out Tuesday afternoon, and County Clerk-Recorder Carolyn Crnich, under whose bailiwick the Elections Department lies, sorted out the Journal shortly after this meeting.
Rodoni's name will stay on the June ballot. There will be three candidates: Rodoni and challengers Estelle Fennell and Clif Clendenen. If either Fennell or Clendenen takes over 50 percent of the June vote -- unlikely – they will be the next Second District Supervisor. Depending on whether and how Schwarzenegger arranges an interim appointment, the winner could take office either shortly after the election or when Rodoni's term expires in January.
If Rodoni wins over 50 percent in June, the Governor will have to appoint someone to take Rodoni's seat. That appointment would be effective until 2010, the time of the next countywide general election.
There's a third scenario -- perhaps none of the three candidates will win a majority in June. In that case, there will be a runoff election in November between Fennell and Clendenen. Rodoni's name will not appear on the ballot, no matter whether he places among the top two candidates or not. This contingency, which is sure to mightily piss off Rodoni supporters, is spelled out in California Elections Code Section 8807. Rodoni gets 40 percent, Fennell and Clendenen each get 30? Runoff between Clendenen and Fennell.
There may be another scenario or two out there, possibly involving last-minute write-in candidates who may wish to assume the Rodoni mantle, but this is what's on the table right now.