City Council Recount – And the Winner is Sandra Vaseka by 12
It was crowded in the North Russell County Office building on Thursday as two county commissioners, the clerk of district court, the elections administrator, witnesses, the media and two nervous candidates met to recount the ballots from Ward Six.
Commissioners Dave Strohmaier and Josh Slotnik began the recount at about 1:30 after hearing instructions from County Elections Supervisor Dayna Causby.
The two candidates, Sandra Vaseka (who won the initial election by a 12 vote margin) and Nick Schontz, the challenger, could only watch and wait while the approximately 2,500 votes were being recounted one by one.
“We have about 2,500 votes to recount,” said Causby. “The commissioners have come in to do that. They are the governing body, but only two could attend, so they have appointed Shirley Faust, the Clark of District Court, to join them in the process.”
Causby said there are three large boxes of ballots and the commissioners and Ms. Faust sorted them by candidate, and then they tallied all those votes once again.
Causby said the two candidates do have options should they be dissatisfied with the recount.
“This is the final word, but if there are additional discrepancies then the candidate has some choices which would involve court orders,” she said. The 12 point total difference falls under the .5 margin for the candidate (Nick Schontz) to pay for the recount. I gave him an estimate of about $2,000, but anything under that he will be refunded.”
Vaseka, a member of what was called ‘Team Liberty’ was one of two fiscal conservatives to win their city council races, however Schontz felt the 12 vote difference was close enough to ask for a recount.
Schontz, like many of the current Missoula City Council members, favors a local option sales tax meant to help lower property taxes, however Vaseka, along with Ward Four’s Jesse Ramos, does not.
After the votes were counted, Sandra Vaseka was declared the victor by 12 votes, the exact number she won by in the original balloting.
After the recount, Vaseka said she always had faith in the electoral system and that Elections Administrator Dayna Causby was completely professional throughout the recount.
She says she is looking forward to joining the City Council in January and learning all she can about how to represent Ward Six.