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No winner, again, in West Stockbridge Select Board election recount. What’s the next step?

Man stands at podium

Town Counsel Brian W. Riley of KP Law describes the procedure for Friday’s recount in the West Stockbridge Select Board election. The result was the same — a tie between Select Board Chair Kathleen Keresey and challenger Jon Piasecki.

WEST STOCKBRIDGE — It’s still a tie.

A painstaking, laborious electronic recount on Friday yielded the same vote totals for Select Board Chair Kathleen Keresey and challenger Jon Piasecki: 202-202.

A wild ride in West Stockbridge: A tie vote sparks verbal fusillade

The 90-minute Town Hall event was held under the watchful eyes of the candidates, their chosen observers and about 20 onlookers. The 406 ballots, which included a Humpty Dumpty write-in and a blank, were counted in groups of 50 and fed into the Dominion Systems electronic voting machine and recounted on the other side to ensure all 50 had made it through.

“Anytime there’s a recount, you’re hoping it comes out exactly the same, and it did,” said town counsel Brian W. Riley of KP Law, the Boston firm representing West Stockbridge. “All the equipment worked, no mistakes. It’s just unfortunate it’s a tie, so now we have to do it again.”

The election process heads back to square one, with a town caucus at 6 p.m. June 12 to select the candidates, including Keresey, Piasecki and any others who may be nominated and seconded by registered voters. The new election is slated for July 17, with voting hours to be announced.

Keresey said the outcome of the recount was expected.

“The process was very regulated and orderly,” she said. A fifth-generation town native whose family settled in the town in the 1840s, she returned full-time a few years ago after pursuing her career in New York City. Keresey was seeking reelection to her second three-year term and will run again for the July 17 replay.

“It’s a brand-new election and wipes out this past election for the Select Board race,” she said. Meanwhile, the Select Board will meet as scheduled, with Keresey chairing the sessions.

Piasecki, who had filed for the recount and specified an electronic replay rather than a hand count of the ballots, called the procedure “very fair, very thorough, complete and well thought-out. I’m very happy it’s a tie and there wasn’t any discrepancy. It’s back to ground zero and a new election, starting over again. It’s all good.”

Repeating one of the central themes of his candidacy, Piasecki, a local farmer, called it “a clear sign of division in the Berkshires, changing demographics are happening and it’s a question of respect for what’s gone before and integrating what’s new. We have to see if we can do it, I think we’re right at the front edge of that.”

Presiding over the recount were West Stockbridge Town Administrator Marie Ryan, who’s also the assistant town clerk, Terri Iemolini of Stockbridge, Kerry Sullivan of Lenox, Felecie Joyce of Sheffield and Jenn Messina of Great Barrington. The outcome of the revote was announced by West Stockbridge Town Clerk Ronni Barrett.

The outcome of the replay also was a vote of confidence for the integrity of Dominion Systems, the company reviled by 2020 election deniers, including Fox News hosts. The company recently won a $787 million judgment in a pretrial settlement of its lawsuit against Fox.

Turnout for the election on May 8 was 33 percent — 406 voters out of 1,218 registered in the town.

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

In the 1970s, longtime Richmond resident and Eagle columnist Ruth Bass recalled, there were two ties that had to be resolved with follow-up votes.

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

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