Portland has selected its final city councilor for the next term.
Brandon Mazer won the final round of the runoff for an at-large seat on Portland’s City Council by lot on Thursday morning. City officials chose by pulling a folded piece of cardstock with a name from a wooden bowl from City Clerk Katherine Jones’ house to conduct the lot-drawing Wednesday morning. Each candidate folded their own card and placed it in the bowl before the pull.
The unusual means of breaking the tie were added to the Portland city charter in 2011.
A tie in a municipal race is determined by the city clerk “in public by lot,” according to the charter.
After the draw, Mazer told reporters outside City Hall that the process was “very cool” and hoped it would make national news.
“My heart was just racing,” he said. “We made history today and it’s very exciting, and we’ll follow the process as needed.”
Tuesday’s election resulted in a ranked choice runoff between Mazer and Roberto Rodriguez, who both received 8,529 votes after two instant-runoffs in the four-way race, according to the city.
Candidates Travis Curran and Stuart Tisdale, Jr. were eliminated earlier in the runoffs.
Rodriguez will contest the results of the ranked-choice vote election now that the winner has been selected.
He and his attorneys plan to submit the formal recount request in writing by the end of Wednesday, and plans to work with the city to make sure that “we have as many eyes on the ballots and that every vote is counted,” he told the BDN.
“We want to do it as soon as possible, and we want to make sure we have enough staff to do it as cleanly as possible,” Rodriguez said. “We’re open to bringing in people from the state if that’s necessary.”
A manual recount has been scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 9 at Ocean Gateway Terminal from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., though it could spill over into additional days.
The city hired Election Systems and Software, a Nebraska-based firm, and MK Elections, a Connecticut firm founded by Caleb Kleppner, who designs instant runoff systems, for a recount on a tight referendum last November. The city used both companies “as a resource” for ranked-choice voting for this election, according to Grondin.
“When [city clerk Katherine Jones] was getting a tie, she said [she] would like both companies to tell us if they were getting the same result, and then they did,” Grondin said.
Both firms independently verified the tie.
“It’s just sticking the thumb drives into the [computer] and running the calculation,” Grondin said.
Neither firm is expected to be involved in the recount.
The League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan group that promotes public participation in politics, has criticized the city for not making the ranked-choice voting process more transparent in this city council race.
A spokesperson from Election Systems and Software told the BDN Tuesday that while the city uses its software “to perform initial tabulation, election officials [from the city] perform ranked-choice calculations using resources from another third-party provider.”
Mazer is the chair of the city’s planning board and works as a lawyer for the firm Perkins Thompson. Rodriguez has sat on the school board since 2015 and works as a co-director for Cultivating Community, an urban farming organization.
Winners in the city’s council races in District 1 and District 2 races were announced Tuesday night. Anna Trevorrow, a paralegal and school board member, and Victoria Pelletier, a racial equity and economic management coordinator for Greater Portland Council of Governments both won seats on the council.
Both candidates said the process affirmed to them that every vote matters.
“We want to make sure that people recognize that when they don’t feel that it’s important to vote or that it’s not going to make a difference, here is a clear indicator that yes, it makes a difference,” Rodriguez said