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Schatz wins third council term in Jacksonville voting reversal

JACKSONVILLE — Incumbent City Council member Donna Schatz claimed a third term when she picked up five votes in a recount conducted Thursday and Friday.

Schatz received 620 votes in the recount, while challenger Dan Winterburn lost two, dropping his total to 616. Winterburn had led by three votes before the recount.

"Essentially, most of (Schatz's votes) were picked up on ballots that had erasures," said Donna Connor, Jackson County elections deputy.

Erasures by voters who changed their minds created miscounts in the contest, in which voters were asked to mark three choices for council positions. Some erasures were counted by voting machines as a fourth vote, which invalidated all votes for the council races on those ballots. The hand recount showed voters' intentions and allowed counting of additional ballots.

State law required a hand recount of votes in the race due to the closeness of the original result, which saw the candidates separated by .07 of 1 percent of votes cast in the contest.

"I was kind of resigned that Dan was going to be ahead of me, so this morning was kind of a total surprise and I expect a letdown for him," said Schatz, who was present with Winterburn Friday morning when the result was announced at election headquarters in Medford. "We shook hands on the way to the cars."

Schatz said she would support the appointment of Winterburn to a council seat that will become available in January when current Councilman Bruce Garrett resigns to assume the mayor's duties.

"This guy (Winterburn) has put a lot of effort into it," said Schatz. "Actually his stance on a number of things, keeping Jacksonville small and keeping it historic, is very similar to mine."

Winterburn was philosophical about the turn of fortunes.

"I guess some ballots got fouled up," he said. "Anyhow, that's how life is. I'd really like to thank all the people that voted, the people that believed we could change things. We'll do what we can, we have a team now."

Winterburn was optimistic that he would be appointed to the vacant seat. He said it seemed logical and equitable that the person who gained the next highest number of votes should be appointed.

Both Winterburn and Schatz said they were happy with the recount procedure.

"I think it was pretty thorough. They counted them three our four times," said Winterburn. "They had to count them until they got the same number from two sets of people."

Schatz watched as four counters and Connor scrutinized individual ballots to determine a voter's intention.

"They really worked hard on it," said Schatz. "You sat there being more and more reassured as far as credibility."

Tony Boom is a freelance writer living in Ashland. Reach him at tboom8929@charter.net.