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To Bag a Victory, Tied Hopefuls Leave It to Fate

November 29, 2003|Jean-Paul Renaud | Times Staff Writer

A wrestling match between two school board candidates might have made for a good show, but Culver City officials decided there was a better way to settle an election that ended in a tie.

So on Monday, Roger Maxwell and Stewart Bubar will meet in the offices of the Culver City Unified School District and each reach into a separate bag filled with marbles. The first to draw a white marble wins.

Although Maxwell offered the wrestling idea in jest -- he's 64 and Bubar's 56 -- Maxwell said he would have benefited from a good match.

"I'm from Iowa, and all Iowans are wrestlers," said Maxwell, a retired parole officer who received 1,141 votes in the Nov. 4 election, exactly the same number as his opponent, Bubar, board president and a middle school teacher in the Los Angeles Unified School District.

But the tie-breaker needed to be fair.

So wrestling and a crossword puzzle competition were thrown out, along with the one-on-one basketball game idea.

"There were some people that were thinking about cards or dice, but it might look like gambling and it's not a good example for students," Supt. Laura McGaughey said.

Less than 10% of the district's registered voters turned out for the election, in which three candidates were vying for two seats on the board. Incumbent Marla Wolkowitz emerged as the outright winner with 1,267 votes. The district encompasses 10 schools and more than 6,900 students.

Bound by a district code passed in 1997 that outlines how elections should be dealt with in the event of a tie, the five-member board had the option of mounting a runoff or playing a game of chance.

Runoffs can cost up to $85,000, according to the Los Angeles County registrar-recorder. The superintendent's assistant, however, already had a Chinese checkers game at home, fully equipped with marbles of varying colors.

So the board opted for the cost-effective measure.

On Monday one candidate will reach into a bag with eight red marbles and one white marble. The bag for the other candidate will hold eight blue marbles and one white. The first to pick a white marble will be sworn in the following day.

"We all do the best we can in our campaign, and it's kind of the luck of the draw who votes for you," said Bubar, who has served on the board for eight years. "So now we have another luck of the draw. This one is a little more bizarre."

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