10:18 PM PST on Monday, February 22, 2010

By GENE GHIOTTO
The Press-Enterprise

Voters go to the polls today in Lake Elsinore to decide whether to recall or retain Councilman Thomas Buckley.

The polls open at 7 a.m. and close at 8 p.m. Voters will be asked whether they want to recall Buckley or keep him in office. Voters also will be asked who they want to replace Buckley with if he is recalled.

The others on the ballot include Steve Manos, a real estate broker; Jimmy Flores, a local restaurateur; and Phil Mendoza, an Orange County sheriff’s deputy.

Recall proponents have accused Buckley, a two-term councilman, of arranging the city Redevelopment Agency’s purchase of land from one of his campaign supporters at nearly double the price the real estate investment firm paid for the land. Buckley denies any wrongdoing.

Buckley has said the recall is based on fraud and lies. He accused recall backers of campaign-finance fraud, money laundering, and illegally using nonresidents to collect signatures on the recall petitions.

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