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'Every vote counts': Utah mayoral race decided by coin toss

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SALT LAKE CITY — Every vote mattered in a handful of Utah races this year.

Take for example what happened in Wasatch County, where a coin toss was used to break a tie for Charleston's next mayor.

On election night, Kam Alan Brown was three votes ahead Brenda Kozlowski, but after more results were posted Nov. 14, they were tied with 83 votes each, leaving the race up to a coin flip during Thursday's council meeting.

Kozlowski called heads and won the toss.

"Every vote counts," Kozlowski said. "You might not think it, but it really does. It's just amazing."

"This is an example of how important it is for each voter, especially in small communities, to get out and vote," said Wasatch County Clerk Brent Titcomb.

Salt Lake County also saw several nail-biting races.

In Herriman, City Council candidates Cody Stromberg and Sherrie Ohrn were deadlocked on election night with 350 votes each. Stromberg pulled ahead with 464 votes to Ohrn's 437 when more ballots were tallied on Nov. 9, but the race flipped several more times as more votes were counted before Tuesday's canvass solidified the win for Ohrn by nine votes, 545-536.

"Boy, do these votes matter," said Salt Lake County Clerk Sherrie Swensen.

Another race Swensen said she's been tracking was Bluffdale's at-large council race, which now has the potential of a recount.

Four candidates filed for the two at-large Bluffdale City Council seats. On election night, Alan Jackson and Wendy Aston tied for first place with 582 votes. After Tuesday's canvass, Jackson pulled ahead with 744 votes, but third-place candidate Connie Robbins with 704 votes closed in on Aston's 708 votes, only two behind — a 0.16 percent margin.

Under Utah law, a candidate may request a recount in a race decided by less than a 0.25 percent margin up until seven days after the canvass, so Swensen said the Bluffdale candidates could potentially still request a recount.

That's also the case in the race for two Magna Water District board of trustees seats, where third-place candidate Dan Stewart fell only two votes behind second-place winner Jeffery White, 1,024-1,022.

"When it comes down to a matter of one or two votes, that's pretty profound as to how much each vote matters," Swensen said. "Some of these races were just so very close."

In Weber County, two razor-thin races in Plain City and Pleasant View have also qualified for recounts, according to Shelly Jackson, the county's assistant elections director.

Plain City Council front-runner Chad Allen beat Todd Davis by only two votes, 947-945, after Tuesday's canvass.

In the race for two Pleasant View City Council seats, third-place candidate Dale Roberts was only nine votes behind Steven Gibson — a 0.22 percent margin.

Jackson said the Pleasant View candidates have already filed for a recount, but no candidates in the Plain City race had requested a recount as of Wednesday.

The race for two seats on the Roy City Council was also tight after Tuesday's canvass, though the 0.30 percent margin was too large to qualify for a recount, Jackson said.

Second-place Roy City Council winner Bryon Saxton, a former Standard-Examiner reporter, beat Joe Paul by 28 votes, 2,487 to 2,455.

"Your vote absolutely counts, especially in these municipal elections," Jackson said, adding that it's "frustrating" municipal election turnout is often lower than presidential or congressional years.

In Davis County, 20 votes decided the winner for the second Fruit Heights City Council seat. Jeanne Groberg beat incumbent Scot Poole 752-732.

"These city elections, they're the ones that really have the most direct impact on our lives," said Brian McKenzie, Davis County chief deputy clerk, urging voters to realize how important it is to vote in municipal elections. "For me, it's probably the most important election we could ever participate in if we really care about what's happening in our community." Email: Twitter: KatieMcKellar1

Katie McKellar


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