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Milk-bottle tiebreaker determines second candidate for Rockford council seat

Aug. 26, 2021 Updated Thu., Aug. 26, 2021 at 7:31 p.m.

By Sophia McFarland The Spokesman Review

A seat on the Rockford Town Council fell to a game of chance on Thursday.

Spokane County Auditor Vicky Dalton declared Ivan Willmschen the second-place finisher in the Aug. 3 primary election for Seat 5 on the Rockford Town Council.

In the vote, Mark Lonam Jr. finished first with 38 votes, while Arriaga and Wilmschen tied with 34 ballots each. The tiebreaker was needed to determine which candidate would face Lonam in the November election.

Dalton placed and mixed two numbered balls in a brown milk bottle and said that the first ball to roll out would win the tie.

She assigned Willmschen ball No. 2 and Arriaga, the incumbent, ball No. 3 because these were the positions that appeared on the ballot. Both candidates were invited to attend the tiebreaker but were not in attendance.

After placing both balls in the milk bottle, Dalton shook the bottle and ball No. 2 rolled out first, making Ivan the second-place finisher in Rockford’s primary election.

Before announcing a winner, Dalton said that the milk bottle tradition was the ultimate game of chance.

“One of the joys of being an auditor is the odd things that go on, and that is in the case of a tie. State law says the winner will be determined by lot, and there can be no skill whatsoever,” she said.

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