Candidate wins tie, resigns

Patty Hanna, left, had her name drawn from a hat Wednesday but bowed out of a tie in voting for a Palisade Town Board seat because the town “will be better served” by Penny Prinster, right.


Breaking a tie

Drawing names out of a hat? Flipping a coin? To decide an election in the event of a tie? Yes, according to Colorado state law.

Officially, Colorado Revised Statutes 1-11-102, which governs tie votes in nonpartisan elections, reads: “If any two or more candidates tie for the highest number of votes for the same office and if there are not enough offices remaining for all the candidates, the board of canvassers shall determine by lot the person who shall be elected. Reasonable notice shall be given to the candidates who are involved of the time when the election will be determined.”

The scene at Palisade Town Hall on Wednesday afternoon was reminiscent of third-graders picking sides for a kickball game or grown men arranging a fantasy football draft order.

Only here, town officials were drawing names out of a hat to decide who would become the newest member of the Town Board. But even that rare step didn’t settle the election.

That’s because Patty Hanna, the woman whose name was drawn out of the hat, immediately resigned. She said she wasn’t elected by a vote of the people, and she preferred the seat go to Penny Prinster, the woman whom she tied for the last seat on the board, setting up the hat draw.

“I think she can do the job,” Hanna said of Prinster as the two women stood outside Town Hall immediately after the draw. “She has the know-how and the time.”

The decision as to who will fill the seat, however, rests with the Town Board.

The unusual scene added another twist to a municipal election that has revealed a sharp divide between some current and outgoing town trustees and some candidates who had hoped to replace them.

In a seven-way race for three seats, residents on Tuesday cast the most votes for Bennett Price (319) and Dave Edwards (244). Hanna and Prinster each received 199 votes, setting up a recount Wednesday morning that yielded the same results.

In the afternoon, with Hanna and Prinster in attendance, town officials chose to break the tie by drawing names out of a hat. One employee put Hanna’s and Prinster’s names on pieces of paper. Another folded the papers and placed them in a hat. Yet another drew out Hanna’s name.

But Hanna, who served on the board from 2000 to 2006, declined a chance to serve a second time. Hanna, who works for Safeway, said Prinster has more time to serve because she’s retired. And Hanna believes the town “will be better served” by Prinster, who was on the board from 2002 to 2006.

Both women indicated they think the Town Board needs a shake-up.

“I feel a couple of the board members have gotten a little out of whack,” Hanna said.

Six weeks before the election, Palisade police investigated a confrontation at The Livery Saloon involving Mayor Dave Walker, Mayor Pro Tem Mario Coringrato and a group of men including trustee candidate Wayne Reid that culminated with Walker threatening to shut down the bar. No charges were filed.

Coringrato is leaving the board after choosing not to seek re-election. Reid finished with nine fewer votes than Hanna and Prinster.

Town Clerk Carol Speakman said she consulted with the town’s attorney and the Mesa County Elections Division before drawing names out of a hat. She said it’s now up to town trustees to decide who they want to select to fill the seat and how they will choose that person.

She said she didn’t know when those decisions will be made.

Price and Edwards are scheduled to be sworn in next week.


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