HEYBURN — Heyburn City Councilman Dick Galbraith and challenger Glen Loveland locked eyes on a 50 cent piece as it spun in the air before landing on the carpet in front of them on Nov. 15 at City Hall.
The coin toss determined the winner of an open four-year city council seat after the two men received a tie vote in the Nov. 7 election.
Each candidate received 112 votes.
Loveland gave Galbraith the option of picking heads or tails — Galbraith chose heads and a sticker indicating each man’s choice was stuck to his shirt.
City Attorney Paul Ross said the county commissioners canvassed the vote on Monday and state code called for the city clerk to determine the winner with the toss of a coin.
About two dozen citizens, council members and city employees gathered in the council chambers to watch.
“I wanted to come watch this historic event,” said Heyburn resident Larraine Kluzik.
Kluzik said a run-off election should be held instead of a coin toss.
“I think it would be fair,” she said.
Both candidates agreed.
“I’m absolutely not happy about it,” Galbraith said before the flip took place.
Prior to the event, Loveland said he just wanted it to be over.
“I think the people should decide,” Loveland said.
Standing before them, City Clerk Ashlee Langley’s hand trembled as she held the coin in her palm and showed both men that it was indeed a two-sided coin.
It took only seconds for Langley to balance the coin on a thumb nail and flip it into the air. It came to rest at their feet — tail side showing — securing Loveland’s place on the Council in January.
“Well, I guess I’ll be here through the end of the year and then it’ll be in someone else’s hands,” Galbraith said after it was over.
He does not intend to ask for a recount of votes, which he is entitled to do.
“It’s an automated process,” Galbraith said, referring to the election.
Loveland said he was surprised that he won.
“I know how bad he must feel,” Loveland said.
Mayor Cleo Gallegos said the city will likely put the coin in a shadow box and display it at City Hall.
Because state law is vague about how the coin toss should take place, it was up to the clerk to figure out the details.
The city got two 50 cent pieces from the bank, one as a back-up in case one of the candidates was not satisfied with the coin, Langley said.
“I wanted to cover all the bases,” she said before toss. “And yes I have been practicing.”
Langley decided to let the coin hit the floor instead of trying to catch it so everyone could clearly see how it landed.
She also had a back-up plan to determine who would call heads or tails if the candidates could not work it out on their own.
Numbers one through 10 were written on pieces of paper and placed in a bowl. The candidates would have drawn numbers and the highest number would have made the call.
“I know a lot of this stuff seems silly but we had to figure out how to make it fair,” Langley said. “We put a lot of effort into preparing for this and we took it very seriously.”