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Coin toss decides winner in Illinois village’s trustee race

Published: Thursday, May 2, 2013 10:03 a.m. CST

(MCT) CHICAGO — The political fortunes of David De Leshe took a turn for the better Wednesday thanks to a quarter.

De Leshe and Lea Torres were among six candidates vying for three village trustee positions in Stickney, Ill., in the April 9 election, and the two tied for the third spot with 573 votes each.

So a coin toss — won by De Leshe — decided the winner.

“What are the odds (the vote would end in a tie)?” De Leshe, a police officer in Lyons, said minutes before the toss at the Cook County clerk’s office in downtown Chicago. “It really goes to say that every vote does count.”

De Leshe, who is a member of the local school board, was making his first run for the Village Board.

Torres, an incumbent, came to the coin toss with a few items she thought would bring her luck — holy cards stowed away in her purse.

“I carry them with me all the time,” she said.

Before the toss, the candidates’ names were put into two pill bottles, which were placed into a fishbowl. De Leshe’s name was pulled out first, so he got to choose between heads and tails.

When Cook County Clerk David Orr, the designated coin-tosser, was handed a quarter, he joked that more valuable currency should be used for the occasion.

“Where’s the silver dollar, huh?” Orr said. “We’re getting cheaper. I guess we can’t afford the silver dollar.”

De Leshe called heads as Orr flipped the coin, which tumbled to the carpeted floor. And heads it was.

“From this point forward, I’m just going to try breathing a little easier,” De Leshe said. “Most importantly, the village is at stake here.”

Torres still has the option of calling for a discovery recount or filing a lawsuit to contest the election, Orr said. But Torres, a retired Stickney police reserve officer, said she would need to consult first with her attorney. She wasn’t sure if she would continue in politics but planned to remain active in the community and spend time with her nine grandchildren and great-grandchild.

By law, ties are decided in Illinois by “some sort of lottery,” Orr said. “We tend to flip a coin. The good news is it doesn’t happen too often,” though races are often decided by “two, three or four votes,” he said.

In the race for village president in Stickney, Deborah E. Morelli won by seven votes — a relative landslide.

It’s not the first time a coin toss has decided a tie in Cook County. Orr also flipped coins to determine election winners in 2011 and 2007.

———

©2013 Chicago Tribune

Visit the Chicago Tribune at www.chicagotribune.com

Distributed by MCT Information Services

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