Ore City Council candidates to decide winner by coin toss

Published on Wednesday, 14 May 2014 22:26 - Written by Phillip Williams, Special Correspondent

ORE CITY — Both candidates for an unexpired term on the Ore City City Council have agreed to have a coin flip settle the outcome of last Saturday’s election after a delay in tabulating some votes showed Tuesday they tied, City Secretary Gail Weir said.

The original unofficial returns released Saturday night showed Steve Heim leading incumbent Jeannette Orms by four votes, 48 to 44, but the complete count showed they received 55 each, Weir said. Rather than having a recount or special election, both of which would cost the city money, the candidates agreed to a coin flip at a special City Council meeting set for 7 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall, she said.

State law allows the coin flip option in Ore City after the council canvasses Saturday’s vote, Weir said. Asked who would decide who called the flip, she said, “These are two nice people, and they will work that out.”

The tie was discovered after Hart Intercivic, the firm tabulating the votes at the Upshur County Courthouse in Gilmer on Saturday night, failed to count the votes from one of the city’s electronic voting machines and one of the machines in the nearby New Diana Independent School District bond election, Weir said. The omission did not alter the outcome of the bond issue, which failed.

Since computer cards were locked in a ballot box, the city had to obtain an order from state 115th District Judge Lauren Parish in Gilmer to open the box, Weir said. The city secretary said Tuesday she has received no explanation from Hart for the delay in tabulating the votes.

In another unusual twist to the election, incumbent Orms ran for the one-year unexpired term of the late Bonnie Caldwell’s seat rather than seeking reelection to a full two-year term for her own seat. Orms, 55, is an insurance agent, while Heim, 41, is an emergency medical technician.

In the only other matter on the Ore City ballot, voters overwhelmingly renewed a one fourth of 1 percent sales tax for street repairs by a vote of 79 to 26 in complete, unofficial returns. The election for mayor and some other council seats in the northeast Texas town of more than 800 was canceled since none of those offices were contested.