Second Ward city council incumbent calls for recount

ST. JOSEPH — A sequined Uncle Sam hat and the slips of paper it contained could hold the fate of the 2nd Ward City Council seat.

After last week’s midterm election ended in a deadlocked tie in the city council’s 2nd Ward, candidates Travis Timm and incumbent Bob Durm were asked to draw from the hat at the Berrien County Courthouse in St. Joseph Wednesday morning.

Timm, 26, drew an “elected” slip from the hat while Durm, 54, subsequently held the “not elected” slip of paper in his hand.

Following the drawing, Durm filed for a recount of 2nd Ward ballots, as is the losing drawer’s right to do so. Durm had to pay a $50 fee for the recount.  While many have expressed outrage at the absurdity of the process via social media, it is part of an official process created by Michigan Election Law. 

With the results of the recount still hanging in the balance, it was not quite an official victory for Timm yet. Following the drawing, Timm said he was happy at the possibility to be a city council member.

“It’s very exciting,” Timm said. “I am looking forward to getting to work.”

Reflecting on drawing from a hat, Timm said he felt that the process was certainly a unique way to determine the election.

“It was shocking to say the least,” Timm said. “I think most people were surprised and did not realize that was the process.”

For his part, Durm said he felt some mixed emotions.

“[I’ve] served 23 years on council, gone through five city administrators and [I’m on] the third mayor,” Durm said. “I’ve never lost a city council election. I don’t know if you would call this losing an election. I guess I was unlucky today.”

On the other hand, Durm said he felt some “relief.”

“It’s been a large part of my life and I think it’s going to be a big void to fill, but I think I will find ways to fill that void,” he said.

Prior to the drawing, Durm said he spoke with Timm to share some information that he thinks will be helpful, should Timm win. He said he would be eager to share more with Timm to catch him up on the role.

Reflecting on his tenure as council, Durm said he had no regrets.

“Even now, with the prohibition of recreational marijuana – people need to read and understand everything,” Durm said.

If he claims the victory, city council will be Timm’s first political venture. Timm is a bank teller in Buchanan. He said he chose to run so that he could get actively involved in the city of Niles.

“I think we have a lot of really positive things going right now and I would like to keep those things going,” Timm said. “I just want to keep the positive momentum going.”

Unofficial results from Tuesday night’s election showed that Timm and Durm had earned 377 votes each.

The county board of canvassers will be conducting the recount. Durm said he does not know how long the process will take, but it is expected to be completed before city council members are sworn in on Nov. 26. Berrien County Clerk Sharon Tyler could not be reached for comment before deadline.

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