Incumbents retain seats on Marshall City Council; Ward 3 race ends in tie

Wednesday, April 6, 2005
Incumbents Barbara Utlaut and Lorna Alexander retained their seats on the Marshall City Council, but residents of Ward 3 might have to wait to learn who their new representative will be. Preliminary returns show Sam Moten and Jim Ruff tied with 163 votes each. If the final tally still shows a tie, a run-off election will likely be held.

With three candidates receiving the same number of votes, 163 seemed to be the magic number in Tuesday's Marshall City Council elections.

Unofficial returns released Tuesday night by Ken Bryant, Saline County clerk, showed Lorna Alexander retained her Ward 4 seat, defeating Jean Harms with a vote of 163 to 79. However, no clear winner was present in the Ward 3 race -- where both Sam Moten and Jim Ruff tallied 163 votes.

Bryant said if the official vote count still shows a tie, the next step will be up to the city.

"They could hold a run-off or, if the candidates agree, they could use some sort of lottery system," he said.

State law allows for a number of random ways to determine a winner in the event of a tie vote, including drawing straws or flipping a coin.

Marshall Mayor Connie Latimer said Wednesday that a final decision had not been reached on what to do if the final vote is a tie. However, the general consensus is that a new election would be better selecting a councilman through some sort of method of chance.

"I think you open yourself to too much second-guessing," Latimer said of lottery systems, adding that such systems take the decision out of the hands of the people. "It's their ward, it should be their choice."

During the campaign, Moten said he would like to see improvements made to the neighborhoods in Ward 3. He said he wants to make sure needed street repairs are completed and the appearances of properties are properly maintained.

Ruff said he sees Marshall as a good community, but he wants to see it grow. He said improvements to infrastructure and expanded commercial opportunities would make the city a place where people will want to raise their families.

Ward 1

In the city's other contested race, incumbent Ward 1 Councilwoman Barbara Utlaut was the favorite of voters. She defeated challenger Corinthian Jaco by a vote of 393 to 135. Ward 2 Councilman Tim Reeder, the council's longest serving member, ran unopposed.

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