A few races still too close to call

After months of campaigning, the 2013 election still isn’t quite over for a handful of candidates.

Just five votes separate the third- and fourth-place candidates in the race to fill three seats on the Frontier Local Board of Education, with as many as a dozen provisional ballots that could still be counted. Meanwhile, two incumbent Barlow Township trustees will have to wait for seven provisionals to be reviewed and perhaps some absentees to be counted before finding out which of them will remain in the job.

Provisional ballots are those whose validity is in question, for a reason like their ballot not being signed or the address they present at the polls not matching the one on file. They will be reviewed by the board of elections, which will decide whether they are valid. If so, they’ll be added into the totals at the canvas, tentatively scheduled for Nov. 25.

“Wow. That’s three weeks,” said Barlow Township Trustee Richard Best, who led fellow Trustee Darren Roddy by three votes according to final, unofficial totals released Tuesday.

In addition to the seven provisionals, there are three absentee ballots that were mailed out to township voters but hadn’t been returned by Election Day. If postmarked by Nov. 4, they would still count.

Best and Roddy – who finished behind Corey Proctor and his 346 votes – say they aren’t too worried about the outcome.

“However she shakes out between me and Darren, it’s fine with me,” said Best, who was appointed to the seat two years ago following the death of Al Harris. “Those provisionals could all be for him. Or they could all be for me.”

Roddy, who has been a trustee for 14 years, said he won’t be bothered if the results don’t change in his favor. In fact, he’d like it that way.

“Honestly, I think Dick Best goes out and works with the guys every day, and I’d rather see him get it, I guess. He deserves it,” said Roddy, who added that if he is the odd man out he might consider a run again in two years or perhaps seek another office.

In the Frontier Local school district, the top vote-getter, Todd Collins of Newport, and the fourth-place finisher, Whipple resident Daryl Bowersock, were separated by just 55 votes. While the 12 provisional ballots to be considered – plus two possible absentee ballots – won’t be enough to raise Bowersock’s tally of 733 votes up to the level of Collins’ 788 or Gale DePuy II’s 754, it could allow him to pass Lawrence Township resident Kurt Bohlen, who received 738.

Neither Bowersock nor Bohlen could be reached for comment Wednesday.

And even after the canvas, there could still be another step: if the difference between the vote totals falls within one-half of 1 percent of the total votes cast, an automatic recount is triggered.

Some other races that had close finishes don’t have enough outstanding ballots to change the outcome.

Jeremy D. Gribble received 90 votes in the race for Fairfield Township trustee to Betty Watson’s 85. But even if the single provisional ballot in the race and an unreturned absentee are counted for Watson, the three-vote margin wouldn’t be low enough to trigger a recount.

The difference that gave Kurtus Marshall the second trustee seat in Liberty Township over David Kehl was even smaller – 60-57. There are two absentee ballots that hadn’t been returned, and both would have to be for Kehl to qualify for an automatic recount.

The Lawnsdale in Dunham Township had its Sunday liquor sales petition approved 100-98, and with only one provisional ballot for the Dunham East precinct, it will apparently stand.

A few seats were going to remain empty for a while no matter how many people cast votes on Tuesday.

Only one person ran for Lowell Village Council, leaving three seats empty. There’s also a vacancy on the village’s board of public affairs.

The Lower Salem Village Council had a quartet of seats on the ballot and just one candidate, while New Matamoras had two candidates for four seats. New Matamoras also needs someone else for its public affairs board.

Filling vacant council seats is a duty that falls on the remaining council members. If they don’t do so within 30 days of the seat being vacated, the mayor makes the pick. The mayor makes appointments to the board of public affairs as well.

“Anyone that’s interested in serving on council just needs to get ahold of one of the current council members or me or the clerk” and let them know they’d like to be considered, Lower Salem Mayor David Brightbill said, noting appointments would not be made until January, when the seats are officially open.

Lowell Mayor David Pitzer said the details of that village’s search will be discussed at upcoming council meetings and announced at a later date. People can contact the village office for more information.