NORMAL — Normal won't know its next mayor for at least two weeks.
Incumbent Chris Koos and challenger Marc Tiritilli fought to a near draw in Tuesday's election, finishing seven votes apart — fewer than the 35 outstanding absentee ballots.
"It's two weeks before they're official," said McLean County Clerk Kathy Michael, whose office oversees Normal elections. "If they're postmarked today (Tuesday), they count."
Michael said either candidate could request a recount after the absentee ballots are counted. That would take an undetermined amount of time and has never happened in Michael's time as clerk.
Neither man declared victory or defeat Tuesday evening, though each told The Pantagraph he'll seek a recount if necessary.
Koos said he's prepared to serve as mayor until the race is decided, but he's "not sure the legal on all that." He said the race shouldn't negatively impact town business regardless.
“It’s seven people leading the community. It’s not one person,” Koos said. "Normal Town Council is pretty united on where they want to be in leading the community forward."
Koos was credited with 3,113 votes to Tiritilli's 3,106. Koos, 68, has been mayor since 2003 and owns Vitesse Cycle Shop in Normal; Tiritilli, 51, is a Bloomington High School science teacher.
Tiritilli said he has "full confidence in the staff at the county offices" to count the remaining votes and conduct a possible recount.
"I’m sure I’ll be in touch with them over the next few days to get the particulars,” he said. "It's just going to take some time to get more information.”
Koos said he "didn’t expect it to be as tight as it was.”
“We’ve got two weeks to see where this goes, and maybe longer," he said. "I’m feeling pretty good about where I am in the community, and I’m very happy about the outcome of the council vote.”
Tiritilli said earlier Tuesday he felt "tired but very satisfied" about his campaign. He said he was proud to run a competitive campaign and to encourage debate about town issues, including the town public-comment policy changed last month.
"No matter what, we did a good job on both campaigns, and it's up to the voters," he said. "We left it all out on the court. ... I have no regrets."
"Two hard-run campaigns. ... We'll see which one resonated," he said.
Voters also chose three Normal City Council members: Chemberly Cummings, Kevin McCarthy and Scott Preston.
McCarthy and Preston have served on the council since 2013. Cummings, a newcomer, succeeds Cheryl Gaines, who lost a bid for Normal Township supervisor on Tuesday.
Cummings is a 34-year-old State Farm business architect. McCarthy is a 52-year-old performance and lifestyle coach at PATH Performance. Preston is the 29-year-old founder and president of real estate company Tomorrow Enterprises LLC.
McCarthy led the field with 3,652 votes, followed by Preston's 3,377, Cummings' 2,998, and Ron Ulmer's 2,848. Write-in candidate James Woods won 116 votes.
Other write-in candidates received 69 votes.