Shawn Gregory is the new alderman for Springfield’s Ward 2. The decision came down to drawing a ping pong ball out of a bag.
Earlier in the evening, the Springfield City Council voted 9-0 to declare the race between Gregory and Ald. Gail Simpson a tie.
Simpson, who’s been serving since May after she was called the winner by one vote, and Mayor Jim Langfelder did not vote.
Council members, attorneys and the hearing officer the council appointed, retired Judge John Mehlick, debated whether to count some botched ballots.
Ultimately, council members got behind a measure that tallied a couple votes that had a misplaced election judge’s signature and others where affidavits for voters who needed assistance at the Mary Bryant Home for the Blind weren’t properly filled out.
That led to the tie, 464 to 464, and the drawing.
“The takeaway for everyone, whether you’re in Springfield or anywhere else, is one vote does matter,” said Langfelder after the meeting.
Earlier in the week, council members failed to reach an agreement on the recommendation from Mehlick. He suggested Simpson should win by a third of a vote. He did not include the ballots with improper affidavits, which meant the vote totals were reduced proportionally, leading to a fractional vote total.
The decision follows a recount that lasted more than three months.
Gregory said he wants to lead the healing process after tensions erupted over the recount.
“We can’t put ourselves our forward and our egos first. Yeah, we battle in elections and sporting events,” he said. “But in the end we’re people and we all got families, so when it’s over, we’ve got to get together and figure out how we move forward.”
Ward 2 includes much of the east side of Springfield and parts of downtown.
Langfelder says he will set the Gregory’s inauguration date soon.
Simpson did not return an emailed request for comment.