Lovell squeaks in
Close mayoral election vote sends clear message: Grogono

by Richard Gleeson
Northern News Services

NNSL (Oct 24/97) - A six-vote margin of victory for incumbent mayor Dave Lovell survived a recount.

Lovell and second-place finisher Matthew Grogono each lost two votes during the recount due to rejected ballots, leaving Lovell with 1137 votes and Grogono with 1131.

"Either way, it would have been a relief," said Lovell. "It's possible to deal with anything but uncertainty."

Grogono congratulated Lovell on the win at city hall Thursday morning.

The challenger gave qualified approval of the recount, saying, "As far as what got into the boxes, I don't know about, but what came out was definitely reflected in the results."

Grogono said the six-vote loss leaves him with no regrets about his decision to try for the city's top job. "I'm thrilled that I ran," he said. "If I hadn't, I'd be sitting here kicking myself for days."

"Dave (Lovell) has dismissed it as a protest vote," said Grogono, the only one in the five-candidate race who has not served on the present council. "But I think it's a clear message people want change. He'll get that message because the rest of council will tell him."

Lovell said he does not dismiss Grogono's popularity lightly.

"I think there is a real communication problem," said Lovell. "I think the new council will do a lot to alleviate it."

The recount was conducted Wednesday at city hall. It started at about 10 a.m. and went to 9:35 p.m, said returning officer Debbie Euchner.

Grogono and his scrutineer, Robin Beaumont, witnessed the recount, though Grogono left at 6:30 p.m. Lovell chose not to attend. He was represented by accountant John Himmen. Also on hand were Euchner, polling officer Penny Kocik and lawyers Garth Wallbridge and Geoffrey Wiest.

Before the recount began, there was some disagreement over who would be involved. Both candidates were informed they or an appointed representative could witness the recount.

The morning of the recount Grogono and his scrutineer, Robin Beaumont, argued they should both be involved.

"We had a discussion amongst the lawyers and everyone else, including (city administrator) Doug Lagore," recalled Grogono, who said it was decided both would stay.

"Then the question was, 'Should Mr. Lagore attend?'" said Grogono. "He was there in the room when it was set to get started." It was decided Lagore would not stay for the recount, said Grogono.

He added that the arguments preceding the recount typified the ongoing need to battle city hall for fair treatment.

"If I didn't have Robin Beaumont, the Cities, Towns and Villages Act and the Elections Act, they would've misled me," he said.

Grogono ordered the recount Monday night, soon after the final tally of ballots. For about 50 minutes Grogono was declared the unofficial winner by a local radio station.