SPEARFISH - The final outcome of the Ward III Spearfish City Council election was decided by a drawing Tuesday as newcomer David Baker drew the winning white marble.
Baker and incumbent Shawn Dardis tied at 126 votes apiece in the April 14 city election. Three recounts and a circuit court hearing have taken place since the, and no winner has been determined. State law requires drawing of lots.
Dardis and Baker rolled dice to determine which candidate would draw from the bag -- either a winning white marble or the non-winning black one. Dardis rolled and 3 and Baker a 6. Baker took his time drawing, but pulled out the marble, hidden in his clenched fist on his right hand. He then opened his hand, and the white marble fell into the waiting hand of Spearfish City Administrator Greg Sund.
"Relieving," Baker said of the end of the election. "We finally got to the point where we get to that outcome."
The city does not have an ordinance governing tie votes and reverts to the state law that requires a drawing of lots for a winner.
The drawing ended incumbent Shawn Dardis' 12-year council career. She said she was also relieved, but disappointed in the outcome. She also said it was a very good possibility she would run again for public office.
The Spearfish City Council canvassed the votes and hand counted the ballots on April 16 and determined a questioned ballot was a vote for Baker and the election was still tied.
A recount board met April 29 to examine the ballots. That three-person board determined on a 2-1 vote the ballot was a valid vote for Baker, keeping the election tied at 126-126.
Vote counters on the April 14 election board determined that one particular ballot in question was an intended vote for Baker. The voter appears to have also made a single stroke of the pen for Dale Brownell, a third candidate in the race who received 84 votes.
There is also a notation apparently made by the voter on the ballot that their vote is not for Brownell, but for Baker.
Fourth Circuit Court Judge John W. Bastian ruled June 15 that all the valid ballots should be counted in the election, keeping the final tally tied at 126-126.