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Holts Summit alderman race remains tied

Holts Summit alderman race remains tied

April 10th, 2019 by Seth Wolfmeyer in Local News

Holts Summit Ward 1 Alderman Mike Harvey, left, repeats the oath of office as Interim City Administrator Hanna Lechner reads it Tuesday during a special meeting. Harvey won a competitive election for the seat April 2.

Photo by Seth Wolfmeyer /Fulton Sun.

The tie between candidates Lisa Buhr and Chris Redel for Holts Summit Ward 2 alderman remains after Buhr pulled out of a coin toss to decide the victor before it was to take place Tuesday, saying the Callaway County Clerk's office had not properly followed procedures and questions over election results remain.

"We were reviewing election results and we had questions that were not able to be answered immediately by the County Clerk's office," Buhr said. "We're waiting to hear back from them."

If Buhr and Redel do not agree to a coin toss or another solution, Interim City Administrator Hanna Lechner said Holts Summit must hold a special election for Ward 2 within 60 days. At minimum, a special election could cost the city $1,200, she added.

"I hope that this is resolved by the end of the week, because if not the board's gonna have to motion to have a special election," Lechner said.

Buhr said she had a question about a discrepancy between the number of votes received for the election and the number of votes counted. The county clerk has reached out to the third-party vendor that conducted the election, she added, but had not provided an answer in time for the coin toss.

"We know that there's been a small handful of provisional ballots and absentee ballots that were not counted, so that's kind of also another aspect," Buhr's campaign manager Elisabeth Condon said.

Callaway County Clerk Ronda Miller, who is in her first term as clerk, said Friday there were two absentee ballots not counted because they had not arrived by the deadline.

Buhr said it might be possible to hold a coin toss next week once the questions over vote discrepancies and procedures are resolved.

Buhr and Redel initially said they did not want to hold a special election, but Condon said Tuesday they weren't certain that was still the opinion of Buhr's campaign, adding they do not want the city to bear the expense but that it is important the election is verified properly.

Buhr said she also believes not all procedures listed in state statute affecting the certification of the election had been followed by the county clerk.

According to state statute 115.499 and 115.501, a verification board made up of the county clerk and two verification judges must give notice to each candidate of when the board will verify the election results. Candidates are allowed to attend the meeting, and Buhr said she was never notified of when it would occur.

In addition, a tiebreaker by lot must be done at least five days after the candidates are notified of the time and place of the drawing, according to state statute 115.517. The election results were only certified Monday, Buhr added. All candidates in a tie must agree to the tiebreaker.

"In this instance, one vote does make the difference, and I would rather be using these resources," Buhr said. "I want to make sure that everything is the way that it's supposed to be and that everybody is heard that did try to vote."

Redel told the aldermen during the meeting he may reach out to Buhr and try to resolve the issue. After the coin toss was canceled, Redel left the meeting. Buhr did not attend.

The special meeting, though, continued without the coin toss. The Holts Summit Board of Aldermen certified the election results for the Ward 1 alderman race, and newly elected Mike Harvey took his seat after being sworn in.

The Holts Summit aldermen also passed an ordinance Tuesday involving use of UTVs and golf carts on city streets, limiting to roads under certain speed limits, requiring the vehicles be inspected, and that vehicles be covered by liability insurance.

Police Chief Kyle McIntyre said residents could contact the Holts Summit Police Department's non-emergency number to schedule a time for an officer to come inspect their golf cart of UTV. Residents must receive a permit for use of the vehicles on city streets, which expires after two years and involves a $20 fee.