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Disputed Coin Toss Decides Council Race

December 04, 1996| From Associated Press

KINGSBURG, Calif. — A City Council race that ended in a dead heat on election night came down to a simple coin toss Tuesday. But did the winner really call tails?

Candidates Paul Kruper and Rick Walley each received 1,272 votes in November's City Council race in this small Central California farming town about 20 miles southeast of Fresno.

As allowed by state law, the council called a special session Tuesday to break the tie. But controversy emerged as several people at the meeting questioned Walley's call just before the toss.

They swear they heard him call heads. But he says that's not true.

"The council sitting there close by heard what I said. . . . I'm very confident that I called tails," said Walley, who was declared the winner.

The City Council had the option of hearing an audio recording before ruling on the election, but members voted against that and certified Walley the winner.

Kruper, the loser, said he will call the secretary of state's office to appeal the ruling.

"I was ready for win or lose, but I was not ready for what happened here," Kruper said after the meeting.

Kingsburg had one of the highest voter turnout rates in the state, nearly 74%. The town's former mayor, Gordon R. Satterberg, was one of California's oldest elected officials when he resigned this spring at age 88.

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