By Mac Cerullo
---- — AMESBURY — Mayor Thatcher Kezer has formally submitted his request for a recount, contesting the results of last week’s mayoral election that saw him fall short of re-election by a mere two votes.
Kezer said he will be contesting the results of all six districts and has asked that every ballot be counted by hand. He spent the past week collecting signatures from residents around town, and once the city clerk’s office certifies those signatures, a meeting of the Board of Registrars will be held to determine when and where the recount will take place.
The recount will likely take place at some point next week, and Kezer said his understanding is that the registrars will wait until after Friday’s 5 p.m. recount request deadline so that other candidates who also want a recount have a chance to request one. There was one other moderately close races in last week’s election. In the District 1 council race, Paul Sickorez beat incumbent Robert Gilday 381-357, and in the write-in race for Housing Authority Michael Bartley beat Michael Noon 14-13. But so far no one has stepped forward asking for a recount in those races.
Once the time and place is set, both Kezer and Mayor-elect Ken Gray will receive at least three days written notice that the recount will be taking place.
“What we’re asking for is a hand count of all the ballots; it’s probably a better term than a recount,” Kezer said. “It’s a hand count of each and every ballot to make sure they were all counted correctly and that they were all accounted for. So it’s a normal part of the process of coming to a final resolution as to where the election stands.”
Kezer was beaten in last week’s election 2,092 to 2,090 by political newcomer Gray, who was a virtual unknown in Amesbury politics less than a year ago. Kezer said he would request a recount immediately after the initial results were read, and Gray responded by urging the mayor to concede.
Gray said yesterday that he was not surprised that Kezer filed his request, and that he’s looking forward to having the process resolved as quickly as possible.
Once the recount is scheduled, the city clerk’s office will organize the necessary resources and bring in readers, tabulators, runners and police officers to facilitate the process.
During the recount, all of the ballots will be counted by hand, and each candidate will be allowed to witness the recount, along with one or more counsel and a group of “agents” to oversee the process. The general public will also be allowed into the room, but only authorized personnel will be allowed into the recount area itself.
If the recount were to end in a tie, Kezer said his understanding is that a special election would have to be scheduled, though he hopes it doesn’t come to that and would like to see the election decided one way or the other at the conclusion of the recount.