The fate of former mayor John Sullivan's request for a ballot recount rests in the hands of Judge Alane Laboda, and perhaps his lawyer being able to specifically hone Sullivan's complaint to the judge's liking.
If successful, the battle for who exactly is mayor could stretch into the new year.
Laboda, reserved judgment Tuesday on a motion to dismiss the case Sullivan has made concerning the results of the Cape Coral mayoral elections that took place Nov. 5. Sullivan lost to new mayor Marni Sawicki by 121 votes following certification.
The decision whether to grant or deny will ride on what exactly Sullivan is suing for after Laboda determined the original complaint did not state specifically what Sullivan's alleged grounds are, and that the complaint did not provide related supporting evidence.
Leigh Fisher, Sullivan's lawyer, must provide a definitive statement by the end of the day on Monday.
Also, Laboda's order granted a motion to have claims against Supervisor of Elections Sharon Harrington, Cape Coral City Clerk Rebecca Van Duetekom and City Councilmember Rana Erbrick dismissed as individuals.
They are still listed as defendants as members of the canvassing board.
If successful, the case is set to go to trial on Jan. 7.
Sullivan lost by more than the .5 percent threshold that would trigger an automatic recount, so if the recount were to be approved by the judge, Sullivan would have to foot the bill.
Sullivan filed a lawsuit Nov. 13 for a recount, along with five of his supporters, alleging "certain inconsistencies and irregularities occurred which resulted in Marni Lin Sawicki being reported as the successful candidate and winning the election by the Election Canvassing Board," the suit said.
Former council member Bill Deile, one of those five supporters, said Wednesday he is confident Sullivan's case will be heard.
"We feel confident that the case won't be dismissed and that it will be allowed to go forward. There were a lot of errors and irregularities at voting places that closed early and the numbers didn't add up," Deile, an attorney, said. "It bears looking into. Whether the mayor comes out on top is important to him. It's important to the city to have good numbers so there's finality, not have questions like 'Who killed Kennedy."'
Sullivan and Harrington were not able for comment since the case is still in litigation.