In what’s believed to be an unprecedented event in Hillsville and Carroll County, challenger Bill Tate won a drawing Friday morning to break a tie for the Sulphur Springs Ward seat on Hillsville Town Council.
Tate and incumbent Billy Walls Sr. tied with 89 votes in the May 6 Town of Hillsville election. The Carroll County Electoral Board met the next morning to certify the results. Once the tie was certified, a drawing was set for Friday to break the tie according to Section 24.2-674 of Virginia State Code – Determination by lot in case of tie.
On Friday, Carroll County Electoral Board member Keith Meredith placed a paper with each candidate’s name in an envelope. The envelopes were then placed in a ballot box. Before the drawing, both Walls and Tate were given a turn to stir up the envelopes. Carroll County Electoral Board Chairman Dennis Shockley then pulled one envelope from the ballot box and handed it to Carroll County Registrar Kimberly Cloud, who opened the envelope. She then read aloud the contents of the envelope, William L. Bill Tate Jr.
“I hate to win an election like this but I would hate to lose one like this,” Tate said immediately following the drawing.
Before the drawing, neither candidate seemed to be pleased that a drawing was required to break the tie, but both expressed satisfaction in the fairness of the tiebreaker.
“You can’t go against law,” Walls said.
“There is no other choice,” Tate added. “I don’t see any other way according to the Code of Virginia.”
Shockley oversaw the drawing Friday. He explained that both candidates were tied with 89 votes after the preliminary count on the night of May 6.
“We certified the election on Wednesday morning and it came out exactly the same way,” Shockley said. “The State Code calls for this to be done in Section 24.2-674, determination by lot in case of a tie.”
After the drawing, Walls was gracious in the defeat.
“Anything I can do to support you, you know I will help you,” Walls told Tate.
But Walls also said he felt like the voice of the voters wasn’t fully heard.
“I hate it for the citizens because they didn’t get the last word in,” Walls said.
Tate said he felt like the drawing was the only fair way to break the tie, “but I don’t like it.”
“I have to agree with him on that,” Walls said. “We would have preferred the citizens have the last say. Everybody can see by the election the citizens are concerned.”
Regardless of the outcome, Walls said he appreciated every citizen that came out to vote, whether they voted for him or Tate.
“I want to let everyone know I appreciate them all coming out for the election. It shows they care and that is what we are out here for,” Walls said. “I appreciate everybody coming out for the whole election, especially the ones in Sulphur Springs, because if they didn’t care they wouldn’t be there. I just want to let them know I appreciate their support. I like this town and hate we are going out in this fashion, but that’s the way it goes.”