Nagle requests recount

Published 1:55 pm Saturday, November 8, 2008

A recount of the 2008 Austin mayoral race election results will be held Wednesday.

First-term incumbent Austin Mayor Tom Stiehm defeated challenger Mark Nagle, 5,233 to 5,194 in the Nov. 4 election.

The percentages were 47.40 for Stiehm and 47.05 for Nagle.

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On Thursday, Nagle requested a recount of the Nov. 4 results as he is entitled to do so by state law.

Only 39 votes separated the Austin businessman from the incumbent’s total.

“The recount will be conducted by Lucy Johnson, the Austin municipal clerk,” Mower County Auditor-Treasurer Doug Groh explained.

Groh will have his representative at the recount to observe.

Both Stiehm and Nagle will have their own representatives at the recount.

“If you’re going to challenge a recount, I imagine you would want to have a representative there to watch the recount take place,” Groh said.

The last recount conducted in Mower County was an appellate court judge’s race results held after the Sept. 9 state primary.

“That was a statewide recount all over Minnesota, of course,” Groh said. ‘This is only a municipal recount.”

The recount will take place in the Mower County Board of Commissioners’ meeting room and is open to the public.

According to Johnson, she will supervise Wednesday’s mayoral race recount with five or six election judges’ assistance.

“I’m assuming it’s going to take us most of the day Wednesday,” Johnson said of the 11,039 vote recount.

A total of 76.09 percent voter turnout was recorded in the city Nov. 4.

The recount will take place by hand as the judges examine each ballot recorded.

“The examination isn’t tough,” Johnson said. “You have to get them all straight and in the same direction and then you have to sort them out by candidate, count them up and make sure you come up with the right amount of ballots and the right tally.”

The city of Austin has six voting precincts where electronic voting machines with optical scanning counting are used.

This is not the first recount for the Austin municipal clerk.

“Two years ago we had the at-large council member race with Peter Christopherson and Janet Anderson that resulted in a recount,” Johnson said.

Christopherson defeated Anderson 4,319 to 4,301 or 50.01 percent to 49.80 percent that year.

When the recount was done, the result remained the same.

Another recount occurred in the early 1980s in the mayoral race involving incumbent Robert Enright and challenger Rube Bongard.

“There might have been some others, but we’ve never changed the outcome of the vote count on Election Day,” she said.

Both the Christopherson-Anderson general election and appellate court state primary election results in the city remained the same as the votes tallied by election judges on the respective Election Days.

The city picks up all costs of the 2008 recount.

“I can recall when there was an election where the margin was only one vote, and there was no recount requested,” Johnson said. “They didn’t ask for it and evidently they didn’t want the position that bad.”

Stiehm and Nagle split the 1st Ward’s two precincts. Stiehm emerged victorious in the 2nd Ward’s two precincts, and Nagle won both precincts in the 3rd Ward.

Stiehm narrowly won election as mayor in 2006, when he defeated Norman Hecimovich by a 4,534 to 4,261 or 51.18 to 48.10 percent margin.

The Stiehm-Hecimovich race occurred after former long-time Austin mayor Bonnie Besse Rietz decided not to seek re-election after five terms in office.

The mayor and at-large council member positions are two-year terms.

All other city council member terms are four-year terms.