Political drama in Salmon Cove
Returning officer breaks deadlock after two candidates poll identical numbers
It was supposed to be a low-key byelection in the Town of Salmon Cove on Jan. 17, but it turned out to be a night of political drama after the two leading candidates — Lisa Rodgers and Marilynn Layman — polled an identical number of votes.
In a scene reminiscent of the controversial mayoralty race in the Town of Paradise in September 2009, it was left in the hands of returning officer and town clerk Juanita Korpan to resolve the deadlock.
The Municipal Elections Act stipulates that a draw take place to settle a tie, so Korpan wrote the two names on identical pieces of paper, folded them, mixed them in her hands, and threw them on the floor. Then, in front of the candidates, she selected the piece of paper containing Rodgers’ name.
“ We were all dumbfounded,” Korpan said. “ This is something we’ve never seen in Salmon Cove.”
But unlike the situation in Paradise, where court challenges ensued and national headlines were made, there were no hard feelings, said Korpan.
The ballots were counted three times, with the third-place candidate, Janine Butt, garnering 46 votes.
Korpan said it felt more like a general election than a byelection.
“ We were steady for the whole 12 hours the polls were open,” she said.
A turnout of 228 voters — there are some 350-plus eligible voters in the town — surprised everyone, including the winner.
Rodgers said all three candidates were on the phones, trying to get voters out.
“I called close to 300 people,” said Rodgers, who served as the town clerk in Salmon Cove from2001 to 2008.
She recalled one byelection several years ago in which some 90 people participated.
When asked about her priorities, Rodgers said recreation, environmental issues, and the town’s finances.
The byelection was required following the resignation of former mayor Roy Rose in the summer of 2010. Rose died of cancer on Oct. 12 at the age of 58.
Rodgers will be sworn in at the council’s next meeting on Jan. 31.
Lisa Rodgers is the newest member of the council in the Town of Salmon Cove.