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The question of who will sit in Northglenn’s Ward 2 City Council chair was finally settled Dec. 5, with former Mayor Joyce Downing edging out opponent Danielle Henry.
It wasn’t anything either candidate did during the campaign that determined the final outcome but pure chance: Adams County Clerk and Recorder Stan Martin simply plucked Downing’s name out of a fishbowl, settling a City Council race that had ended in a 642-642 vote tie.
“You know, it was scary,” Downing said afterward. “This has been very unusual. It really has. So it was exciting, but very unusual.”
Neither candidate attended the drawing, but watched a live video stream on Adams County’s Youtube page. Kate Smith, a friend of Henry’s and an aide during the campaign, attended the drawing as the candidate’s representative.
It was fair end to a long process, Smith said.
“We’ve been happy with the process,” Smith said. “They’ve done a fair job. It took two days, but it was detailed and organized and professional. And, as we’ve seen, the democratic process works.”
It began when the unofficial count was finished Nov. 7. While newly-elected Mayor Carol Dodge the other Northglenn councilors-elect were celebrating their wins, the Ward 2 race was too close to call.
Just five votes separated Downing and Henry and that difference continued to shrink as the County Clerk’s office continued to refine the vote tally — receiving absentee ballots via mail from voters in other countries, ballots that had mistakenly been delivered to neighboring counties and counting ballots from envelopes with mismatched signatures. When the final vote was counted, the Northglenn Ward 2 was an even tie. That triggered a recount, one of several Adams County had to contend with this year, according to Madison Andersen, communications specialist for the Adams County Clerk and Recorders office.
The county’s canvas board, made up of the County Clerk Martin, a deputy and representatives from the Adams County Democratic and Republican parties, completed their recounts on Dec. 4, confirming the tie. According to Colorado law, a tie for municipal office must be settled by drawing lots, Martin said.
“It’s an interesting way to finalize an election,” he said. “But it’s a great reminder that every single vote counts. Voters have to realize that when they cast their votes, every single one counts.”
Republican canvas board member Neal Mancuso of Bennett, said the group went back and forth deciding how to settle the matter.
“We had a lot of options,” Mancuso said. “If we used a coin, depending on the coin, the sides are different and you’re never sure how they’re weighted. So we decided to go for something more simple and more straightforward.”
They finally settled on drawing names from a fishbowl, with each candidate’s name printed by a computer on a label affixed to identical index cards. The cards where then folded in the same manner and placed in the bowl. Martin, facing away from the bowl reached in a picked one out — the card belonging to Downing.
“I think from the candidates’ point of view at this point, eventually you just want all of this over with,” Martin said. “For the candidates, fortunately it’s over for them now.”
Downing’s council colleagues took their oaths of office at the Nov. 27 meeting and she was scheduled to swear her oath at the council’s Dec. 11 meeting. She said she’s eager to get started.
“This has been an exciting time — just a little on the stressful side,” she said. “I am really glad it’s over.”
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