When two candidates for Town Council tied in the New Windsor election last week, town officials were perplexed when they discovered the town charter had no provision for such an occurrence.
After consulting legal authorities, the council Wednesday night voted 3-1 to resolve the tie by choosing incumbent Paul Garver over challenger Samuel Pierce.
"Everyone would have preferred a runoff election, but the law doesn't let you do it," said Mayor Jack A. Gullo Jr. "Who wanted to have to deal with this? Everyone knows everyone else, and everyone knows the personalities involved."
It was an uncomfortable situation for the council to choose between the two men in the close-knit town of 1,200.
A town has the authority to specify in its charter that a tie should lead to a runoff election, but the New Windsor charter doesn't mention this possibility. It does, however, say that any vacant positions are filled by a vote of the council. The only question was whether this was a vacancy, the same way it would be if a council member died or resigned.
Four lawyers independently concluded that the tie constitutes a vacancy, and the town charter requires that a vacancy be filled by the council.
William MacDonald, representing Pierce, disagreed, as did Councilman Neal Roop, who cast the only no vote against the appointment.
Gullo said the charter needs to be changed before the next election.
"This is something we're going to address so we never, ever have this problem again," he said.
Pub Date: 5/21/99