Random drawing decides Lebanon School Board race

By PATRICK ADRIAN

Valley News Staff Writer

Published: 03-17-2023 11:55 PM

LEBANON — By a blind drawing of names, Jessica Saturley-Hall won a School Board seat Thursday morning after she and former middle school principal John D’Entremont ended up tied in Tuesday’s municipal election.

City and school officials held the drawing on Thursday to determine the victor between Saturley-Hall and D’Entremont, who finished tied for third place in a four-way race for three seats. Each received 560 votes during all-day balloting on Tuesday.

Under New Hampshire law, the winner of a tie vote in a municipal election “shall be determined by lot” by the elected clerk. The candidates are invited to be present for the drawing, but their attendance is optional.

Neither candidate was at City Hall on Thursday morning.

State law allows the losing candidate to request a recount once a winner is declared. D’Entremont has until Friday at 5 p.m. to make his request, according to city officials. He did not respond Thursday to a request for comment on his intent regarding a recount.

The election tie was an unfamiliar situation for school and city officials, who had to seek legal guidance to resolve the deadlock.

“I’ve been with the city clerk’s office for 15 years, and I have never seen this happen,” City Clerk Kristen Kenniston said Thursday.

Paper strips, folded to conceal the candidates’ names, were placed in an ordinary Tupperware container. Acting School Clerk Brian Davis — who will be replaced by newly elected clerk Dianne Estes once she is sworn in — had the honor of drawing a name.

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Officials initially considered drawing names from an actual hat but decided on a simpler vessel, Kenniston said.

In a phone interview Thursday afternoon, Saturley-Hall noted all four candidates running for three vacant seats were within 31 votes of one another. She said that reflected the candidates’ similar views.

“It was great that Lebanon voters had so many qualified and enthusiastic candidates to choose from,” she said.

The city also held random drawings to settle two other election ties, one for Ward 1 moderator and another for Ward 1 clerk.

Candidates for these positions were written in on the ballot because no one had filed. For moderator, three write-in candidates, Katrena Hemenway, Gary Mayo and Steve Taylor, each received one vote. For clerk, Katrena Hemenway and Eileen Taylor also received one vote apiece.

Hemenway was selected in both position drawings. According to Kenniston, Hemenway may only choose to serve one. The other position will be declared vacant and an appointment will be chosen by the Supervisors of the Checklist.

Patrick Adrian may be reached at padrian@vnews.com or at 603-727-3216.

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