The Seward City Council welcomed a new member and two returning members at Monday night’s meeting. Re-elected councilwoman and former Vice Mayor Sue McClure was sworn in alongside the newly elected Liz DeMoss before the council heard from the three contenders vying for the seat left vacant by Dale Butts’s resignation last August. Because Butts’s resignation was not filed in time to allow his post on the ballot with the other council seats, the council itself voted to appoint his replacement.
After six rounds of voting, Ristine Casagranda, who left the Council in 2019, won the seat over candidates Sean Corrigan and former Seward Journal reporter Kyle Walker, but the vote was nearly decided by coin toss. The first two rounds of voting resulted in a tie between Casagranda and Corrigan, and the city code states that in the event of a tie, a coin will decide the winner.
According to city code 4.05.120, “If a tie vote exists, and only one of the candidates so tied may hold office under the laws establishing the office voted for, the tie shall be broken by a single coin toss.”
“Typically what we do is, we cast at least three votes, and if a tie remains three times over then we’ll do a coin toss,” said city clerk Brenda Ballou at the meeting. “That’s historically how we’ve done that.”
At least four affirmative votes are required to declare a winner, and after three of the first four rounds of voting resulted in a 3-3 tie between Casagranda and Corrigan, councilwoman Sharyl Seese suggested to continue the voting rather than opt for the coin toss. In the sixth and final ballot, Casagranda won with four votes, and one vote each for Corrigan and Walker.
In the final tally, council members DeMoss, Baclaan, Seese and Mayor Terry voted for Casagranda, while council member McClure voted for Sean Corrigan, and Osenga cast his ballot for Kyle Walker.
“That was a hard choice,” Casagranda said of her opponents. “In my opinion, they couldn’t have gone wrong no matter who they picked. Those were good choices they had.”
Casagranda, who previously held a post on the council from 2011-2019, went on to state that she looks forward to serving again.
“I have a lot of experience and history to bring to the council,” she said. “I think we have a really vibrant and strong council right now: council members McClure, Terry, the Mayor, and Baclaan has been on there for a while. It’s not a really new council; it’s got some stability in it.”
Organizational appointments were issued later in the meeting. Council member Tony Baclaan replaces Sue McClure as Vice Mayor and was re-appointed to his post as Port & Commerce Advisory Board liaison. Council member Liz DeMoss was appointed as liaison to the Planning and Zoning Commission. Council member Osenga retains his position as representative at the Kenai Peninsula Economic Development District, and council member Seese was re-appointed as liaison to Seward Community Health Center’s Coordinating Committee. The Special Ad Hoc Budget Committee was updated to include Mayor Terry, council members DeMoss and Osenga, with council member McClure as an alternate. Additionally, the Policy Work Group Committee was sunset.