Spangle’s next mayor may come down to the toss of a coin.
Wednesday’s final count of the Nov. 7 election ballots leaves Joe Coombs and John Logan tied, with 64 votes apiece, for the town’s top spot.
“Oh my gosh,” said Logan, who had been two votes ahead coming into the final count. “I knew it was going to be neck and neck.”
That means an automatic recount of the town’s 132 ballots - by hand - sometime in the next two weeks. If the two still are tied after that, they’ll have to draw lots for the $50-a-month job.
“This is one of those races where no one can say, ‘My vote doesn’t count,”’ said County Elections Supervisor Tom Wilbur.
The people who can say that least are those four Spangle residents who cast ballots in the election, but forgot or ignored the mayor’s race.
Wilbur said he’d give Logan and Coombs a choice on how they want to settle the race to replace incumbent Loretta Layton, who is retiring. Tossing a coin is one option.
“I think that’s as fair as anything,” said Logan, a hearing aid fitting specialist.
Coombs, an agronomist, was at a conference and couldn’t be reached for comment.
In the other close race in Spangle, Kenneth Degon edged out Pamela Kellogg by four votes, 64 to 60, for Council Position 1.
Spangle politics traditionally are a tame affair with mayors and council members running unopposed. This year, however, a proposed sewer project with an $850,000 cost has the town divided and politically motivated.
Voter turnout for Spangle was 65 percent. That compares to about 48 percent for the county as a whole.
Coombs supports the project, while Logan is calling for detailed study to see if the existing sewer system can be overhauled for less.
“We’ll just have to hang on the edge a little while longer,” Logan said of the ballot deadlock.
Wednesday’s final count of 6,087 ballots - a combination of absentee, mail-in and damaged ballots that had to be repunched - didn’t change last week’s preliminary totals of the close races in the city of Spokane or in Spokane County.
The one-tenth of 1 cent sales tax for the juvenile detention and adult jail facilities passed with a 548-vote margin out of 98,578 cast.
Councilman Orville Barnes retained his seat in a close race with citizen activist John Talbott, winning by just 106 votes.
That’s close enough to require an automatic recount by the computer. But had Barnes’ margin been just two votes fewer, state law would have required the city’s 47,137 ballots be recounted by hand. That’s a time-consuming process with computer-card ballots.
Those two votes gave county election staff, who spent the last two weeks opening, checking and sorting absentee ballots, something to be thankful for. , DataTimes MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: ABSENTEE BALLOTS Absentee ballots defeated a proposed operating levy for the Sacheen Lake Water and Sewer District by one vote, the Pend Oreille County auditor’s office reported Wednesday. The one-year $8,615 levy had 60.5 percent support on election night, but that dropped to 59.5 percent after absentee ballots were counted. Levies require 60 percent to pass. In Stevens County, absentee ballots widened Colville Mayor Duane Scott’s pencil-thin election night victory over challenger Dick Nichols. After absentees were counted Wednesday, Scott had 51.9 percent support. The vote was 742-689.