MOUNTAIN IRON — Three-term council incumbent Alan Stanaway, separated by only four votes from incumbent Joe Prebeg Jr., has called for a recount of the Mountain Iron City Council election results, following a canvassing of the votes one week ago.
The city had accepted mail-in and absentee ballots for the local council race through Nov. 10 that were postmarked Nov. 3.
Votes were canvassed Friday, and Stanaway had seven days from then to request a recount because he met qualifications under Minnesota state statutes, said Amanda Inmon, the city’s municipal services secretary.
According to Minnesota election law, if the total number of votes cast for an election was between 400 and 50,000, a losing candidate may request a recount of the votes, at the expense of the city, if the difference between the votes cast for that candidate and for a winning candidate is less than one-half of one percent. If two or more seats are being filled from among all the candidates for the office, the one-half of one percent difference is between the elected candidate with the fewest votes and the candidate with the most votes from among the candidates who were not elected.
Stanaway’s request was received at city hall Wednesday morning.
Inmon said when all final ballots were received Nov. 10, “very little changed” from the original results immediately following the election in the race for two open four-year seats on the council.
The top vote-getter, Edward “Ed” Roskoski picked up one vote, moving from 810 to 811 votes.
Prebeg remained at 800 votes, putting him in line to be re-elected to the second council seat. Stanaway remained also at 796 votes, positioning him to be eliminated from re-election.
Daniel Gunderson, also eliminated, picked up one vote for a tally of 553 votes.
Stanaway said by phone this week that he requested a recount “for no particular reason other than because it was such a close election — just to double check for any mistakes.”
Stanaway, who has served for 12 years on the council, said he will accept whatever the final results determine. “If it doesn’t make a difference, so be it, that’s the way the vote went. If there is a difference, to my favor or not, this is the only way to find out.”
Inmon said the recount, which she and two election judges will conduct, is set for 10:30 a.m. Monday at the St. Louis County Courthouse in Duluth. The recount is open to the public.
Prebeg, a 20-year member of the council, first elected in 2000, said he is “thankful for the voters’ confidence in me” and respects Stanaway’s petition for a recount. “He was within his rights to do that. I will wait for the results and go from there,” he said. “I will be grateful and honored to continue to serve the citizens of Mountain Iron if the results hold true.”
And if they don’t and Stanaway wins the seat, “I would certainly congratulate Al,” Prebeg said. “I have confidence in Al to do a good job, also.”
Roskoski said he, too, will “accept whatever the recount comes up with.” He noted that, based on current numbers, the odds are that he will fill one of the seats.
Roskoski would not be a brand-new face on the council. He first ran for city council in the early-1980s, and was elected to seven four-year terms, for a total of 28 years of service.
“I’ve been off for eight years,” he said by phone. “I definitely appreciate all the voters who voted for me.” Roskoski said it is validation that a number of voters want him to return to office.
During August’s primary election, however, the former councilor was the second-lowest vote-getter to not be eliminated from the race.
Roskoski said his campaigning efforts may have played a role in his success. He went around to each of the city’s more than 20 neighborhoods, leaving a campaign brochure and a promotional wooden ruler (aimed at marketing the candidate as someone who “measures up”) at each residence and apartment entryway.
Roskoski noted that he was careful to social distance from people during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and said he only talked with residents who were outside their homes or at a distance of more than six feet.
“If I make it through the recount,” Roskoski said, he wants to get right to work on establishing neighborhood meetings throughout the city, which would not be held in person but in some other fashion until COVID restrictions are lifted.
In the race for the two-year mayoral seat, Peggy Anderson remained in the top place after all ballots were received Nov. 10. She tallied 878 votes to Steve Skogman’s 809 votes. Skogman, a current city councilor, has two years remaining on his council term.