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The race for a West Stockbridge Select Board seat ended in a tie. So what happens next?

people line up in hallway

Voters line up to cast their votes at West Stockbridge Town Hall in November. A race between two select board candidates on Monday ended in a tie. 

WEST STOCKBRIDGE — What if two candidates run for a Select Board seat and there’s no winner?

That’s what happened Monday when Town Clerk Ronni Barrett emerged from the Town Hall polling site shortly after 7 p.m. to tell waiting candidates and a few residents eagerly awaiting the results

“It’s a tie!”

Current Chairwoman Kathleen Keresey and challenger Jon Piasecki each tallied 202 votes, leaving both candidates startled and everyone bewildered. “I’ll have to check with the higher-ups in the state,” Barrett said. “There was a write-in vote, for Humpty-Dumpty,” she added.

“I’m speechless,” said Keresey, declining further comment at Town Hall. On Tuesday morning she told The Eagle she has contacted KP Law in Boston, the town counsel, for further guidance.

“I don’t know what to say,” Piasecki said. “It’s unbelievable. I never saw this coming, it’s totally unexpected.” He also reached out to town counsel and the state attorney-general’s office on Tuesday.

Selectman Andy Potter, who was not on the ballot, said: “I’ve never seen anything like it. It means the town is exactly split.”

As a resident observed, “You can’t make this stuff up.”

The next step, according to state law, would be a recount paid for by the state, involving tallies by hand of the electronic ballots.

Recounts can be requested by either or both candidates through the town clerk.

If the recount yields another tie, it’s unclear what would be done next. Also up in the air was the question of how the Select Board would function pending the outcome of a recount that could be several weeks away.

Turnout was 33 percent — 406 voters out of 1,218 registered in the town cast ballots.

It appeared to be the only tie in recent memory for a Berkshire County municipal election. In 2002, a special election for a vacant seat on the Stockbridge Select Board yielded a 194-194 tie between William F. French and George Shippey, according to Eagle archives.

In other election results, a ballot question to make the town clerk an appointed position yielded 158 in favor, 152 against. A second ballot question to make the tax collector appointed resulted in 167 yes votes, and 143 no votes.

Clarence Fanto can be reached at cfanto@yahoo.com.

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