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Judge rules Wagner rightful winner in NLV council election

Updated Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2011 | 2:08 p.m.

Wade Wagner

Wade Wagner

A judge declared North Las Vegas City Councilman Wade Wagner the rightful winner of a contested June election against then-incumbent Richard Cherchio.

Wagner said he was pleased with the ruling by District Court Judge Susan Scann and that he hopes it will be the end of a court case that has dragged on for nearly six months.

Wagner won the Ward 4 City Council election by a single vote, but it was later discovered by the Clark County elections office that there was one illegal vote cast in Precinct 4306.

Cherchio filed court papers contesting the election.

Cherchio’s attorney Matthew Callister said he would discuss with his client whether to appeal.

“The numbers don’t lie, there were improper votes,” Callister said. “The bottom line is we find ourselves at a tie.”

Cherchio said, “The whole idea is to give people the right to have their votes counted.”

The case turned on the deposition of one man who said he voted in the municipal election, even though he was registered in Las Vegas.

But Wagner’s attorneys argued that because the voter couldn’t remember who he voted for — in a deposition, he told attorneys he “thinks” he voted for Wagner — that there wasn’t enough proof to overturn the election results.

Scann agreed, noting that the statute requires proof that an illegal vote was cast and that the vote affected the outcome of the election. Although Cherchio’s attorneys proved an illegal vote was cast, there was no proof it altered the election, Scann said.

She called the voter’s testimony “inconsistent” and not sufficient to meet the legal burden of clear and convincing evidence.

“It’s too equivocal,” she said. “Under the circumstances, I can’t see putting the city of North Las Vegas...through another election. I find the burden has not been met and declare the winner to be Wade Wagner.”

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