WOLFFORTH, Texas (AP) – City Council candidate Bruce MacNair watched the coin rise into the air Friday. His opponent, Bryan Studer, kept his gaze on the carpeted floor to see how it landed.
Within seconds, the silver dollar settled heads up, giving the City Council seat to MacNair, a 56-year-old church administrator. He had hoped to win his first election, but he said, “It never struck me that it would happen like this.”
The two men agreed to settle the race for Wolfforth’s City Council with a coin toss after each received 118 votes in last weekend’s election. A run-off election would have cost the tiny town $10,000, a sum the men were eager to save.
Wolfforth city manager Darrell Newsom said the candidates’ decision reflected their characters.
“The term gentlemen comes to mind,” Newsom said. “It’s the gentlemanly thing to do, and they’re acting in a gentlemanly fashion.”
Texas election law provides three options in the event of a tie: a runoff election, one candidate conceding or some form of casting lots.
Coin tosses have decided races in other states, but it wasn’t clear whether it had happened in Texas. Officials with the Texas Municipal League did not immediately return a phone message Friday. It was certainly the first time a coin toss had been used in an election in Lubbock County, officials there said.
MacNair and Studer, a vice president at the Wolfforth branch of a regional bank, shook hands after the toss.
“He’ll do a good job for the city,” said Studer, 37.
MacNair said he was glad the election was over.
Wolfforth is a bedroom community near Lubbock with about 3,700 residents.
The city attorney drew up a three-page contract outlining rules of the coin toss based on state election procedures for municipalities. Newsom said the municipal league had requested a copy of the contract in case another municipality ever faced a similar situation.
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