Last week’s local election provided some moments the whole nation should stop and take a look at.
The conclusion of the Milton mayoral race played out like none I’ve ever seen.
When the votes were counted on Tuesday night, it turned out that Democrat Tom Aber had defeated sitting Republican councilman Joe Moralez by one vote — 595 to 594.
Talk about every vote really counting!
Each was seeking to replace the late longtime Milton Mayor Ed Nelson, who had been in that office since being appointed in 1995. Nelson unsuccessfully sought a seventh term in the May 18 primary election on the Democratic ballot and died later that month at 83.
In case you weren’t following this race — and judging by the low turnout you may not have been, even if you live in Milton — there was far more to what made this remarkable than the margin of victory.
Looking at the possibility of a one-vote loss, here’s what Moralez said to Daily Item reporter Justin Strawser on Tuesday night.
“It really didn’t matter who won, Milton won as a whole overall,” he said. “If those are the final numbers, I will work with Tom to improve the town. Our hearts are in the same place, and that’s moving Milton forward.”
And here’s what Aber said after the two spent hours together at the polling station on Tuesday.
“We laughed, we talked to people. We had a wonderful time,” He said. “That’s the way it should be.”
I promise you, I’m not making any of this up.
On Wednesday, Northumberland County Board of Elections Chief Registrar Nathan Savidge and assistant registrar Lindsay Phillips hand-counted every vote in every borough precinct. That wasn’t demanded or even asked for. It was automatic.
The result remained the same, with three provisional ballots left to be open.
“Whatever the outcome is, it is what it is and I will accept that,” Moralez said in Justin’s follow-up story. “This is pretty exciting, to be part of history. Any candidate wants to win in a landslide, but this is the second-best thing.”
On Thursday morning, those three provisional ballots were finally unsealed. All three went to Aber, meaning his margin of victory had quadrupled to 4 votes.
“A big congratulations goes to Tom Aber,” Moralez said Thursday. “It speaks volumes about his character and what he stands for.”
Deb Betz, the chair of the Northumberland County Republican Party said Aber will do a “phenomenal job” and Moralez, as a sitting councilman, will work well with him.
“The parties in this county, we decided not to bicker and fight,” she added. “It shouldn’t be whether you’re Democrat or Republican, we’re just decent people with different ideas.”
While it’s unrealistic to expect this level of collegiality from candidates for office, it was awfully nice to see, especially with what we’ve all been experiencing in recent elections.
It’s worth pointing out that for a time, the chance for a tie existed.
The provisional ballots were from one registered Democrat and two registered Republicans. If those voters had selected candidates based on party, the end result would have been a tie. A tie would have meant the decision would come down to a tie-breaker, likely a coin toss or random drawing, Savage said.
As interesting as that might have been, I’m kind of glad the provisional ballots didn’t break down along party lines.
The way these two gentlemen approached the conclusion of this tight race, it seems only right that in the end, for one more time, party didn’t matter.
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