NEWBURYPORT — Coming a close third in last week’s preliminary election for mayor, Ward 2 city councilor Gregory Earls yesterday said he would officially ask the city clerk’s office for a recount.
Last Tuesday, Earls came in third to Mayor Donna Holaday, who received 1,496 votes and Dick Sullivan Jr., who got 1,355 votes. Earls had 1,302 votes, according to unofficial results released by city officials. There were six blanks and six write-in ballots.
“It was just too close,” Earls said yesterday. He added that he had lost out at becoming one of two finalists for the November general election by less than 1.5 percent of the total votes cast.
Late last week, Earls announced he had taken out papers as a first step towards formally requesting a recount.
Yesterday, Earls reiterated that the decision to seek a recount was precipitated by his supporters who believed there could be anomalies in the process which could benefit him.
“I owe them that much,” Earls said.
The recount would take about 7 to 10 days of the forms being filed. Earls said he wouldn’t be seeking the option if he didn’t think it would make a difference and possibly alter the outcome.
“It’s very possible, yes,” Earls said.
According to City Clerk Richard Jones, Earls has until 5 p.m. today to return the necessary forms which would include at least 10 valid signatures from each ward Earls would like to contest. During last week’s preliminary election, Earls was outdistanced in wards 4, 5 and 6 but won wards 1 and 2.
The cost for a recount would be about $4,000 to $5,000. In addition to paying police officers to oversee the recount, additional workers would have to hired as all votes are counted by hand, according to Jones.
The last time the city clerk’s office conducted a mayoral recount was in 1997 when Mary Carrier narrowly defeated Jack Bradshaw. She prevailed in the recount. In 2003, Tom Farrell was declared the winner after a recount over Steve Hutcheson in Ward 6 in the last example of a recount at the City Council level.
The following is a breakdown of ward results: Ward 1, Holaday, 253, Sullivan, 216, Earls, 268; Ward 2, Holaday, 241, Sullivan, 126, and Earls, 375; Ward 3, Holaday, 232, Sullivan, 212, Earls,189; Ward 4, Holaday, 360, Sullivan, 286, Earls, 209; Ward 5, Holaday, 181, Sullivan, 249, and Earls, 124; and Ward 6, Holaday, 229, Sullivan, 266, and Earls,137.
Daily News reporter Dyke Hendrickson contributed to this story.