Unprecedented tie stumps small town

Votes: New Windsor must find a way, preferably inexpensive, to resolve election that ended in a draw.

May 13, 1999|By Mary Maushard | Mary Maushard,SUN STAFF

The tiny town of New Windsor, where the last mayoral election was decided by only 12 votes, has produced another squeaker: a tie in the Town Council ballot.

Volunteers spent a long night Tuesday counting by hand the 320 votes cast for the Town Council election. But by 10: 30 they were stymied, even after a recount. Two candidates, incumbent Paul G. Garver and challenger Samuel Pierce, each had 178 votes.

Now the town of 1,200 doesn't quite know what to do because a tie has never occurred before, and the town code has no provision for what to do if one occurs.

There is some talk of a runoff, which would be difficult for a little town with a small budget -- the mayor makes $3.28 a day, and the five Town Council members each make $1.47 a day.

No one seems to know why the vote was so close.

There were no issues in the campaign. Everyone was for revitalization of Main Street, and sewer and water improvements.

There was some talk of more give-and-take between the council and town residents, but it was low-key.

"It's bewildering to us," said Pierce's wife, Doris.

The question remains what to do about it.

Among the solutions mentioned yesterday in addition to a run-off election: a coin flip and a tug of war.

Resident and voter Carol Beall found it "kind of funny to have a tie. This is such a small town. I imagine it's going to raise a lot of tail feathers around here."

She suggested that a tug of war between the two men might settle the issue.

Pierce, who lost to Mayor Jay Gullo by a vote of 192-180 in 1997, facetiously suggested a flip of the coin.

"I went downtown for coffee this morning and saw someone who said, `Oh, I forgot to vote yesterday.' That would have settled it. Every vote counts," said the retired businessman, who was pleased that 50 percent of the town's 640 registered voters came out to vote.

Incumbents Ronnie Blacksten and Terry Petry were the first and second vote-getters Tuesday with 230 and 182 votes, respectively.

The only one clearly out of the race was the fifth candidate, Kevin G. Null, who ran last with 131 votes.

There were 44 absentee ballots. Voters could cast ballots for up to three candidates.

Curiosity was the attitude of residents stopping yesterday at the town's only deli, the Bear Necessities at Main and Church streets.

"They are curious as to what they have to do about it," said employee Rosalie Griffin, who is not a New Windsor resident and, therefore, not among its voters.

"It's going to be a mess," said Councilwoman Rebecca Harmon, who was not up for election this year.

Pub Date: 5/13/99

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