By Mark Jurkowitz | Outer Banks Voice on November 15, 2019
Jason Borland has become a Manteo Commissioner under unusual circumstances after he and incumbent Hannon Fry remained tied following a Nov. 15 recount of the Nov. 5 election results. Faced with the option of breaking that tie with a coin flip or drawing straws or pulling names out of a hat, Fry took himself out of the running, thus handing the seat to Borland.
“I mean it was certainly an entertaining introduction into this world,” said Borland of his unorthodox victory. “It was unexpected, but humbling.”
Fry, who has spent 14 years as a Manteo Commissioner, said of his decision: “I’m competitive, but [a coin flip or something similar] was not the way I wanted to win or lose.” He also explained that his 87-year-old mother had recently injured herself in an accident and at this point, “I just want to focus on my family.”
To recap recent events, the unofficial Nov. 5 results showed Fry leading Borland by two votes (154-152) in the battle for a commissioner’s seat. On Nov. 13, a count of the provisional ballots, military and overseas ballots and late absentee ballots whittled that lead down to one vote, according to Dare County Board of Elections Chairperson Sandy Semans Ross. On Nov. 15, the Elections Board also removed a vote for Fry cast by someone ineligible to vote in Manteo – thus eliminating that one-vote margin.
After that, according to Ross, a recount failed to break the deadlock and the method for deciding a winner boiled down to what essentially is a game of chance. (Two years ago, Martha Wickre lost a deadlocked Manteo Commissioner’s race to Richie Burke when she came out on the short end of a coin flip.)
That’s when Fry announced his decision to withdraw. “I’ve been doing this for fourteen years…I love the town, I love the people,” he told the Voice, adding a few kind words about Borland — “The guy’s young, he’s energetic, he wants to serve.”
As for the somewhat surprised victor, Borland said he appreciated Fry’s gracious remarks about him, adding “I can’t help but respect someone for saying that.”
In thinking about his career on the Manteo Board, Fry said he originally got involved because he had a family and wanted to make a difference in the town. “I’ll be honest with you,” he added. “I don’t really like politics.”
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