Sandra Vasecka clinched a victory in the Ward 6 Missoula City Council race following a recount Thursday that confirmed the initial vote count.
Nick Shontz, who trailed in the race by just 12 votes after election night, or less than half a percent, called for a recount on Tuesday, but all the vote totals matched up to the election night counts.
Both Shontz and Vasecka said they were pleased to see that the votes, after being meticulously counted by hand for four hours, came out exactly as the machines had initially counted.
Vasecka said she was looking forward to the orientation process and meeting more city staff so she could get to work on the issues she ran on.
“I’m really excited to bring more balance to the council and work with everyone there, and I’m excited to do some good for my community,” Vasecka said following the recount. “My contact info will be on the city website soon, so hopefully people will reach out with any questions or concerns they have. And compliments for the city are welcome, too.”
With 2,474 votes cast in the ward, the 12-vote gap represented a .49% split, barely within the optional recount margin.
State law allows for candidates to request a recount if the margin is less than half of a percent, and requires a recount at no cost to the candidates if the margin is less than a quarter of a percent.
Shontz, endorsed by the local Democratic Party, ran on a platform including lobbying for a local-option sales tax and to legalize and tax recreational marijuana, both to mitigate property tax burdens.
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Vasecka, backed by council member Jesse Ramos’ “Team Liberty,” advocated for cutting city spending through zero-based budgeting, though promised not to cut public safety or infrastructure funding if elected.
Shontz posted a $2,000 bond to cover the potential costs of the recount, but the total cost was still being calculated.
Shontz said he was grateful for everyone who helped his campaign, as well as the county elections officials who helped him through the process of initiating the recount.
“It was really neat to see each ballot counted by hand and imagining each individual person who sat at their kitchen table and filled it out,” Shontz said. “I’m looking forward to working with Sandy and staying involved with making the city the best place it can be.”
Shontz said one thing he and Vasecka both talked about during the campaign was the need for consistent sidewalks in the ward, and he hoped he could help with that as a constituent and as a member of the River Road Neighborhood Council leadership team.
County Elections Administrator Dayna Causby said voters should feel reassured in the democratic process after seeing that the vote total did not change after a thorough recount.
Council member Jesse Ramos, who recruited and helped coach Vasecka’s campaign, stayed for the entire four-hour recount, and said he was pleased with results, and grateful for the elections office staff.
“As an OCD guy, I really appreciated the accuracy of the count, and now the real work begins,” Ramos said.