Council election headed for recount

By J. PATRICK PEPPER
Times-Herald Newspapers

HEIGHTS — Defeated City Council candidate Robert Yahrmatter has filed for a recount following a close loss in the three-way Aug. 3 primary election.

After the more than 5,500 ballots were counted, only 43 votes separated Yahrmatter’s sum of 1,825 and the 1,868 received by top vote-getter Ned Apigian. Even closer to Yahrmatter was Kathy Abdel-Hak, who bested him by just three tallies.

“I wouldn’t call it over yet,” Yahrmatter said. “It’s not even just the three (votes), it’s the 43 between us.”

The recount will take place some time after Aug. 23, when state and county election boards are scheduled to have the initial vote counts certified. As opposed to the machine count used for the election, the Wayne County Board of Canvassers will do the recount by hand, one ballot at a time. The recount will cost Yahrmatter $10 each for the city’s 42 precincts.

Dearborn Heights Clerk Judy Dudzinski said the election was the closest she’s seen in her 14 years working in the Clerk’s Office. It’s also the first time since she was appointed clerk in 2003 that any candidate in a city race has filed for a recount.

“Three votes – who’da thunk it?” Dudzinski said.

Even with the razor-thin margin, she said she would be surprised if the recount found the four votes Yahrmatter would need to go on to the general election.

“I stand by my machines,” Dudzinski said of the automated election system the city began using in 2005. “It tells (voters) if they didn’t vote. It tells them if they voted incorrectly. So, it would be really difficult to get it wrong.”

But irrespective of the results from the recount or general election, the candidates who don’t prevail won’t have a long wait for another shot at it.

The seat sought by Apigian, Abdel-Hak and Yahrmatter is for a one-year term and will be up for election in November 2011 along with the seats currently held by Council President Kenneth Baron and Councilwoman Elizabeth Agius.