Ballots: Silbiger holds on

With all the ballots tallied, incumbent Russ Silbiger has kept his lead over Pam Vavra in the race for City Council seat No. 5 — by 25 votes.

The unofficial final, posted at 3 p.m. Tuesday, shows Silbiger with 46.22 percent (4,751 votes) to Vavra's 45.98 percent (4,726 votes). Ben Chew finished with 7.48 percent (769 votes), and there were 32 write-in votes.

Donna Connor, the county elections deputy, said all the ballots have been processed, and the results will be certified on Monday.

The county elections Web site states that voting breakdowns by precinct will also be available Monday.

The results were just shy of the 0.2 percent difference needed for an automatic recount. A difference of 19 votes would have triggered an automatic recount, Connor said.

Given the close race, Vavra said she still plans to request, and pay for, a recount.

"I still do not expect a recount to change the outcome, but it certainly is possible," Vavra said. "I consider it only prudent for any candidate who comes within a small fraction of 1 percent to request a recount. If the situation were reversed, I would expect Russ to request a recount."

She cited the recount in the 2006 race between Eric Navickas and Greg Lemhouse, which resulted in a difference of six votes out of about 2,500 in Ashland's second precinct.

Vavra said she will probably wait for the election results to be certified on Monday before requesting a recount, and she may also wait until the county completes the administrative recounts.

"From those recounts, we should learn more about how close the hand counts come to counts by our new machines, and we should also be able to better estimate the actual costs," she said.

Vavra said she is mainly interested in reexamining the ballots the tabulating machines logged as overvotes and undervotes. When someone votes for more than one candidate in a race, it's recorded as an overvote. Undervotes are when someone does not vote in a race.

There were five overvotes and 2,529 undervotes in the race for council seat No. 5.

"My main feeling is jubilation at having come so close. As a first-time challenger to an incumbent, I was not a favorite to win this race," Vavra said. "It is immensely heartwarming to discover that so many people supported me."

Unless there is a recount, Silbiger said he's assuming he won, and it's "time to get back to business."

"Tonight's another day at the office," he said Monday before the City Council meeting.

Silbiger said he doubts a recount would change the results.

"It just puts off the inevitable," he said. "Anything could happen, but I don't see the outcome changing."

Staff writer Kira Rubenthaler can be reached at 482-3456 ext 225 or

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