A coin flip Tuesday morning made Gary Bell a trustee of Sauk Village in southeast Cook County.
Seven candidates ran for three trustee positions in the April 2 election in the suburb, with Bell and candidate Beth Zupon tying for the third seat with 288 votes each.
How to settle it? Under Illinois law, when two or more candidates are tied, the county clerk determines the winner “by lot,” which can include a coin toss. So, on Tuesday morning, Bell’s name was pulled from a fish bowl, allowing him to make his “tails” call.
Cook County Clerk Karen Yarbrough tossed an 1899 silver dollar, which landed tails-side up and gave Bell the win.
Bell has served in the Sauk Village Fire Department, but this is his first time holding public office.
“I’ll do the best I can for all residents,” he said.
Bell has been friends with Zupon for several years and said he’s committed to working with her while in office.
Sauk Village had a meager 9.3% voter turnout in the April election. Zupon, an appointed trustee for the last two years who was seeking a full term, expressed disappointment with the low participation.
“For 288 votes to be what [brought] Gary and I both here today is a really sad statement for our community and for so many other communities in this county because it was such a low turnout,” Zupon said.
Yarbrough said deciding a race by a coin toss is not quite the way she would want it to be, but she has to work with what is outlined by law.
“For those folks out there who say that their vote doesn’t count, I’m here to say it does,” she said.
This is the first time a tie has been broken by lot in Sauk Village. The last time an election tie in suburban Cook County was broken by a coin flip was in 2013 for a Stickney trustee position.
Marley Arechiga is a news intern for WBEZ. Follow her @marleyarechiga.