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For the week of May 31 through June 6, 2000

Coin toss decides
school election

Sullivan calls "heads"
again—and wins

"I’m surprised there are this many people here."

- Gary Stivers, school board candidate, before losing a second election-tie-breaking coin toss

Express Staff Writer

district election clerk Cathy Zaccardi flips the coinAlthough Blaine school officials said they hadn’t experienced it before, an Idaho education official said school board election ties aren’t a particularly unusual experience. During the May 16 school board election, 12-year incumbent Lita Sullivan and challenger Gary Stivers each received 49 votes.

The tie-breaker? According to state law, a coin toss.

During a special meeting held Thursday at the school district office in Hailey, district superintendent Jim Lewis, district election clerk Cathy Zaccardi, a quorum (barely) of four school board officials, and a handful of facetious onlookers met for the brief event.

"I’m surprised there are this many people here," said Stivers, a local radio newsman.

In a way, the Thursday toss was a reprieve for Stivers, who lost an earlier coin flip just after the election. Zaccardi declared that toss illegal later that evening after she reread the election rules, which mandate that the board of trustees conduct the toss.

"I still like paper, scissors, rock," declared trustee Claudia Fiaschetti early during Thursday’s 15-minute gathering.

The coin was an old-style quarter.

Early in the week the candidates had decided what side of the coin they wanted.

Sullivan got "heads," Stivers "tails."

Vice chair Janet Askew snapped the coin into the air, where it flipped and glittered in a graceful arch before tumbling onto the carpet.

It landed heads up.

"Twice," said Stivers who was clearly disappointed that his plans to join the school board were dashed by the mere 180 degree rotation of a coin.

Superintendent Lewis consoled Stivers, asked him to please "stay interested," then said Stivers better "go check his lucky well."

When asked if he’ll run again in the next election, Stivers said, "I remain as interested as ever, so I presume if everything stays the same, I will."

Sullivan, a 12-year school board member and current chairperson, said during a telephone call before the coin toss that she would be disappointed to lose the election.

"I feel I’ve done a good job in my tenure," Sullivan said. "I would like to serve one more term. I understand the taxation system in Idaho, the [school] funding system, and I’ve been involved with contract negotiations."

Stivers, who has never held public office, is an outspoken proponent of schools’ teaching character education, which he prefers to call "emotional education."

"What I’m mainly interested in is that high school not be a river of pain for anybody," he said.


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