A popular business contest in Elk Grove shut down on Tuesday after legal threats and accusations that the organizer had rigged the contest.
The 'Best of Elk Grove' contest has been held for nearly a decade. It invites local businesses to enter and then are voted by the community with the winners given bragging rights, a window sticker, and printed award for that year and an invitation to a celebration dinner.
The contest is organized by the owner of Kreative Design/Marketing, Krista Guerrero.
“Due to circumstances beyond our control, we have been forced to shut down the Best of Elk Grove Competition, indefinitely, after being threatened with legal action by an Elk Grove Lawyer and his client,” Guerrero wrote in a statement on Facebook.
According to Guerrero’s lawyer, Jonathan Stein, his client received a cease and desists letter from an attorney for a local business owner who entered the contest.
Attorney Jeff Yazel said he asked to represent the contestant and business owner, who is not being named for fear of retaliation. Yazel said at this time, there is no plan to pursue any type of legal action.
However, he and his client are calling into question the fairness of the contest and allege a conflict of interest. Guerrero judges the contest and enters her business in the contest, which has won first place several times.
“That’s the main thing that’s wrong about this thing,” said Yazel. “She should never be counting for her own votes.”
Yazel said on the final day of the 2017 contest, a live view of the community votes were shown online and showed that his client was in the lead by several hundred votes. When the final results released, Yazel said his client was not found to be the winner.
The rules of the competition state that a person may only vote once. According to Stein, when the competition is over the list of votes are scrubbed for duplicate submissions.
Stein also added that she stands by the results of the contest and will relaunch the website as well as post the 2017 winners. Her lawyer says the future of the Best of Elk Grove is still unclear, but some other community members have already begun talks of a similar contest.