One council race is too close to call
By Joe Whalen
Despite Tuesday's decision by the voters to elect Republican Bob Rice as mayor of Havre, the complexion of the Havre City Council will remain the same overwhelmingly Democratic.
If Tuesday's unofficial results stand, the Democratic Party will retain its 7-1 majority.
All four of Tuesday's races for seats on the City Council were won by Democrats: Ward 1 City Council member Dana West, Ward 2 member Richard F. Pierson, Ward 3 member Tom Farnham, and Ward 4 member Allen "Woody" Woodwick.
In the city judge's race, Joyce Perszyk defeated Carl White 1,551-831 to retain the position.
The newly elected members will be sworn in Jan. 7, at the council's first meeting next year.
One council seat, however, remains in question. In Ward 2, Pierson, a two-term incumbent, defeated Republican Jerry Hanson 293-292 in one of the tightest races in City Council history.
"As of right now, it's a one-vote difference," Pierson said. "I feel with one vote, as it stands now, that I'm the victor. Possibly a recount could change that, so we'll just have to wait and see. But if the one-vote majority stands, and I am in fact the City Council representative from Ward 2, I will do everything I can to work with the mayor for the betterment of the community."
Hanson, interviewed at the Republican election night reception after the results were announced, expressed satisfaction with the outcome of his first campaign for public office but said he'll ask for a recount.
State law says a candidate can ask for a recount if he or she loses by a margin not exceeding .25 of 1 percent of the total votes cast or by a margin not exceeding 10 votes, whichever is greater, within five days of the official canvass. The votes will be canvassed Thursday.
West, an elementary education counselor appointed to finish an abbreviated term on the City Council in 1996-97, spoke with her opponent, Republican Cameron Worstell, by phone this morning. She defeated him 475-289.
"I'm real gratified by the voters' response," West said. "I would also credit Cameron. He worked very hard. Both of us will continue to work for the betterment of Havre."
Running unopposed in Ward 3, Farnham earned his second term on the City Council by receiving 503 votes. Woodwick, competing in his first general election, defeated Republican Erik Meis 326-119 in a race that appeared to feature a foregone conclusion after Meis effectively dropped out of contention two weeks ago.
"I'm very relieved," Woodwick said at the Democrats' party at the VFW club shortly after the announcement of his victory. "I'm looking forward to going to work for the city. Erik had made some announcements about not having enough time for the job, but he was still on the ballot. You can't take anything for granted."