Silbiger hangs on for close win in recount

Incumbent Russ Silbiger held onto his City Council seat and even gained some votes during a hand recount of the race for seat No. 5.

The recount, which started Thursday and wrapped up at noon Friday, increased the separation between Silbiger and opponent Pam Vavra by seven votes.

Prior to the recount, they were separated by 25 votes, six votes more than the 0.2 percent margin needed to trigger an automatic recount. Vavra chose to request and pay for a recount of Ashland's five precincts.

Recount results showed a 32-vote difference between the two. Silbiger finished with 4,759 votes, Vavra with 4,727 votes and Ben Chew with 770 votes.

Silbiger gained eight votes in the recount, while Vavra and Chew each gained one vote.

One write-in vote was tossed out because the bubble was filled in but no name was written in, said Donna Connor, elections deputy for the county.

The tabulating machine miscounted a couple ballots with erasure marks as overvotes, (voting for more than one person in a race), she said.

A few that couldn't go through the machines were duplicated incorrectly by the election boards, Connor said.

There were also a couple extra ballots. When a ballot gets stuck in the machine, it may go through and seem like the votes were counted when they weren't, she said.

The recount results were not surprising and the problems that resulted in the changes were nothing unusual, Connor said.

"Some of the precincts were right on," she said.

Vavra was not surprised that the outcome remained the same, but she said the miscounted ballots showed the recount was definitely worthwhile.

She does not yet know the cost of the recount and said 42 people have contributed or pledged to contribute money to help her pay for it. Some of these people were not among her supporters but wanted there to be a recount, she said.

Vavra has congratulated Silbiger on his win and hopes the community will too, "as we all work together to support the newly constituted Council, helping it to be as productive and effective as it can be," she said.

Although it's too soon to say, there's a good chance she may run for City Council again, she said.

"Based on such a strong show of support for my first time ever running for public office, it seems there are enough people who think I am suited for Council, so I think there is a very good chance I will run for City Council again in 2010, depending on who else is running," she said.

Meanwhile, Vavra plans to review city commission vacancies to see if there is a good fit for her skills and work on sustainable economic development and community dialogue projects, she said.

Silbiger said he is glad the election is over and with so many votes recounted, it feels like the results are accurate.

"I can sleep better tonight," he said. "One thing it shows is everybody's vote really does count."

Silbiger said he is looking forward to continuing to serve on the Council and said the Council and Parks Commission will start tackling the budget during study sessions this month.

"I think the issues we face are pretty daunting, but I think we got a good group to do it," he said.

Silbiger said he was pleased to see that he picked up a few more votes in the recount.

"I'm donating my excess votes to Al Franken," he said.

Reach Kira Rubenthaler at 482-3456 ext. 225 or

Share This Story