ORE CITY — Steve Heim won a coin toss Tuesday night to decide the winner of a tied May 10 election for a seat on the Ore City City Council.
Heim correctly called “heads” after he and incumbent Jeannette Orms drew playing cards to see who would make the call. Gaston (Bubba) DeBerry, a veteran football official who lives outside the city limits and who wore his striped officiating shirt, tossed the coin at a council meeting to determine who would win the one-year unexpired term of the late Bonnie Caldwell’s council seat.
On election night, Heim led Mrs. Orms by four votes, 48 to 44, in what were thought to be complete, unofficial returns. But two days after the election, City Secretary Gail Weir discovered that the number of votes in the election did not match the total number of voters, and it was eventually discovered that 18 votes on a voting machine had gone uncounted by the private firm contracted to tabulate the votes.
When all the ballots were tabulated four days after the election, it was discovered the candidates had tied 55 to 55. Rather than cost the Upshur County city of 1,144 population up to $6,000 for a special election, they decided to settle the issue by coin flip, as allowed by state law.
“It’s been an experience,” Heim told the Tyler Morning Telegraph after being sworn in Tuesday. The 41-year-old emergency medical technician said having to wait another week to decide the outcome was worse than waiting out the 12 hours of voting on election day.
Mrs. Orms, who ran for the one-year unexpired term rather than seek reelection to her council seat’s full two-year term, said she would run for the council again next year. However, the 55-year-old insurance agent said, “Steve is pretty capable” and the city will be in good hands with him.