TOWN CLERK VIRGINIA MCGINLEY draws a card from a St. Patrick's Day hat to break a 114-114 tie in this year's Brookfield selectman's race last Saturday, March 22, in the town offices. Bill Nelson was the lucky winner. (Thomas Beeler photo) (click for larger version)
March 27, 2014BROOKFIELD — It's not very often that someone is announced as having lost an election, asks for a recount and then finds the election was actually a tie.
It is even rarer that the process of resolving the tie makes him the winner.
But that is exactly what happened to incumbent Selectman Bill Nelson in Brookfield this month,
On March 11 at the Brookfield Town Meeting, Moderator Dr. William Marsh announced that in the race for a three-year seat on the Board of Selectmen, challenger David Guttadauro had outpolled Nelson on a close vote, 117-114. Nelson accepted the loss gracefully but then asked for a recount, saying, "It's not that I think I'll win, but it should be done."
When the ballots were recounted on Tuesday, March 18, it was determined that Guttadauro and Nelson each received 114 votes. The ballots were counted three times to verify that result. The prevailing theory of why the initial count was wrong is that on election day three ballots with write-in candidates were mistakenly combined with the Guttadauro tally.
Guttadauro was on a business trip to Saudi Arabia at the time of the recount and was not back in time for the tie breaker last Saturday. He was represented by Officer Mary Devine of the Wakefield Police Department. Nelson was present when Town Clerk Virginia McGinley called the crowded meeting room to order and said she had spoken with the Secretary of State's office on how to conduct "drawing lots,"as state law requires her to do to break a tie. She said she was not comfortable flipping a coin and chose to do a card draw instead. Two identical index cards were folded in half with the name of one candidate written inside of each. The cards were taped and dropped into a large green hat that McGinely had acquired at the Poor People's Pub in Sanbornville. Deputy Town Clerk Jennifer McKown held the hat. McGinley drew one card, opened it and read Nelson's name. Then she drew the other card, opened it and displayed David Guttadauro's name to those present, proving the draw was fair.
Visibly moved, Nelson thanked those present for being there and Guttadauro for running a good campaign.
McGinley then swore Nelson in as Brookfield selectman for another three-year term.