CLINTON — Independent challenger George Wissmiller won a DeWitt County Board seat on a coin toss Monday, but he didn’t approve of settling the tied race by “gambling.”
“I am obviously pleased with the results,” Wissmiller said of winning the third District B seat up for vote in the Nov. 6 election.
The defeated incumbent Terry Ferguson said he will consider seeking a recount.
“That’s the way the old quarter gets flipped,” Ferguson said. “I’m glad this part is over, but now I have to do some research and find out exactly what is involved with the recount process.”
Prior to the flip of the coin by County Clerk Dana Smith, Wissmiller read a prepared statement voicing his opposition to the manner in which the election was settled.
“I don’t gamble,” Wissmiller said. “This process here today is very clearly gambling.”
He said he resolved his conflict by deciding not to accept the nominal pay for the office if her were to win the toss.
“If I refuse to accept pay for this office, it ceases to be gambling,” he said. “The office itself is a responsibility and not a thing of value.”
Ferguson, a Republican, appeared to have retained the seat by a single vote following the Nov. 6 voting. After county officials canvassed the results and counted absentee ballots last week, the candidates were tied with 827 votes each.
Newcomers Mark Gardner and Tom Pruser, both Republicans, won two seats as the top two vote-getters in District B. The tie was for the third seat in the district.
Ferguson has five days to ask for a recount, but must pay for it himself. Ferguson can ask for two precincts to be recounted at his own cost of $10 each.
“I have seen a lot of close elections, but have never seen one this close,” Smith said.
Although pleased with the result, Wissmiller said he still would like to see a different way of deciding an election in the event of a tie.
“I have talked to dozens of people about this procedure, and they were all just amazed we would resort to a coin toss to decide who gets into public office,” he said.
Wissmiller said he would favor a mandatory recount if the votes are tied.
“And if the results are tied after that, we could figure out a way to solve it,” he said. “Even letting the incumbent stay in office would be a better system than tossing a coin like you used to do on a playground.”