By Benjamin Bullard
The Cullman Times
“I can’t be-lieve this.”
That got said a lot at Colony Tuesday night. The candidates said it. The clerk said it. The mayor said it. Other elected officials in the county heard about the outcome of the mayor’s race at Colony, and got on the phone with their friends to say it.
After voters in Colony dutifully turned out — in greater numbers than they did in the August 28 municipal election — to decide the town’s mayoral runoff race, the whole thing ended in a tie.
Donnis Leeth and Patrick Ward each received 64 votes, resetting the race for yet another election — though on a much smaller scale. That’s because the current town council will have to decide the matter, as section 11-46-55 of the Code of Alabama prescribes.
Wouldn’t you know? — that won’t be easy. Current mayor Morris Fitts, whom Ward and Leeth defeated in the August 28 election, said Tuesday evening the six-member council (including the mayor) would likely split 3-3 if forced to choose between the two candidates.
Oh, and both Ward and Leeth are sitting council members. The Code doesn’t mention whether they’d get to vote, and, since they’d likely vote for themselves, it’s an academic point anyway.
“Have you ever seen anything like this?” said Ward, who learned of the result while waiting with supporters at the Colony senior center. “I can’t believe this. Never in my life have I heard of anywhere that this has ever happened.”
Leeth, attending a party function Tuesday night at Wallace State Community College, didn’t know anywhere it had ever happened, either.
“No, never — I’ve never heard of it before,” said Leeth. “I’m disappointed. A couple of people I know said they were going to come out and vote for me, and talking around, I found out they didn’t get to come out and vote tonight. There you go right there — that would have decided it in my favor.”
Ward, too, said he’d never more appreciated the shopworn aphorism that ‘every vote counts’ more than he did Tuesday night.
“Every vote — every vote matters, yes it does,” he said. “I’m ready for this to be over for our citizens, but I thank God, and I thank every last one of the citizens at the town of Colony for voting. No matter who you voted for, voting is very important, and...and every vote matters.”
Alabama law holds that tie votes in municipal runoff elections must be decided by a town’s governing body. The Alabama League of Municipalities’ Special Report for the 2012 municipal elections further specifies that the governing body making that decision must be the one in office at the time of the election.
The Times is investigating what would occur if the council ties in its vote for mayor
* Benjamin Bullard can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com, or by telephone at 734-2131, ext. 270.