ST. JOSEPH — There will be at least two recounts of the November election results in Berrien County – one for the District 5 county commissioner seat and one for the Galien village president.
Berrien County Clerk Sharon Tyler said the deadline for candidates to request a recount was Monday.
The Michigan Board of State Canvassers certified election results on Monday, but Tyler said she can’t schedule the recounts until she receives official word from the board, which may not happen until next week.
“If, by chance, there’s a statewide recount, we would do a countywide recount at the same time as a statewide,” Tyler said.
In the District 5 race for county commissioner, Republican Bruce Gorenflo and Democrat Rayonte Bell each received 3,934 votes. State law requires that in the case of ties, the winner be determined by drawing lots out of a box before a recount can take place.
Gorenflo was declared the winner after pulling a piece of paper out of the box with the word “ELECTED” on it. Bell, who pulled the paper saying “NOT ELECTED” on it, then filed for a recount.
District 5 includes St. Joseph, Shoreham and precincts 1 and 2 of St. Joseph Township. The current District 5 commissioner, Bill Chickering, is retiring from the two-year seat.
In the nonpartisan race for Galien Village Council president, challenger Paul Palmer edged incumbent Kenneth Chappell by two votes, 105-103.
Even though Palmer was the challenger, he’s not new to being president of the village. If he is still the winner after the recount, this will be his third term in the two-year seat.
In the 2018 election, Palmer was the incumbent, with Chappell prevailing as the challenger.
Chappell said he ran two years ago because he wanted to bring new businesses into the village.
“Paul won by just two votes,” he said. “That’s way too close not to have a recount.”
Palmer served on the village council for about 15 years, with the last four as president. During 13 of those years, he said that his wife, Christine Palmer, was village clerk.
Palmer said his wife resigned as clerk in 2018 when Chappell was elected president.
Now it appears both of them will again be on the village council (unless the recount changes the result). In the November election, Christine Palmer won an unopposed seat as a village trustee.