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Game of Thrones: Manhattan Beach mayor to be chosen with 'game of chance'

Paul Allen (left) and Kevin Larson.1 / 4
Kevin Larson2 / 4
Paul Allen3 / 4
Members of the Manhattan Beach Canvassing Board are set to meet 7 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 14 to determine the new mayor via coin toss, card pull or another "game of chance." Echo Journal file photo4 / 4

Florida ain't got nothing on Manhattan Beach. Make heads or tails of that.

Let's set aside talks of close races, recounts and runoffs, and take a look at the mayoral race between incumbent Paul Allen and Kevin Larson for the tiny town—population about 60—just north of Crosslake.

To put it succinctly, it broke dead even—23 to 23—among 46 voters who placed their bids for either candidate. The canvassing board is hosting a special meeting 7 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 14, at the Manhattan Beach City Hall to determine a method that will crown the next mayor, said Amy Wannebo, the clerk for Manhattan Beach, during a phone interview Monday, Nov. 12.

It isn't exactly a "ten paces, turn and shoot" kind of situation out of an old spaghetti Western, but the predicament is unearthing, straight out of the statutes, at least two options for breaking the tie that may raise eyebrows—namely, picking a card or an old-fashioned coin toss to crown the winner.

"We're following the statute," Wannebo told the Dispatch, "and the statute says it has to be a game of chance where each party has the same amount of chance, or the same ratio, or a 50-50 chance of winning."

Once the method is chosen, it will be commenced at the same meeting to select either Allen or Larson, Wannebo noted.

Interestingly, Wannebo said there were 49 registered voters and one day-of registry during Election Day, Nov. 6. Of these 50, 48 voted in the election and, furthermore, 46 cast their ballots for mayor. Only God knows how another two or four votes would have shaken out, now that the election could be, literally, in the cards.

"I've got no problem with it. It's democracy," Larson told the Dispatch during a phone interview late Monday afternoon. He noted he did not have a preference, where coins and cards are concerned.

"I'm in the dark, I don't know who's going to handle it," added Larson, who said he believed a non-candidate council member would oversee the proceedings. "I'm perfectly fine with whatever they choose. The city council will go through their procedures and I'm just fine with that."

Allen did not immediately respond to phone calls from the Dispatch.

Local readers may well remember a similar situation in Breezy Point following the Nov. 8, 2016, election, when a city council race between Jeff Helland and Gary Mitchell ended in a tie of 477 votes each, the Echo Journal reported at the time.

Ultimately, it was decided a coin toss was the preferred method. Mayor Tom Lillehei thought it shouldn't just be any coin, so he moseyed on over to the bank and picked up a coin that was anything but chump change.

"It was a George Washington dollar coin," Lillehei told the Echo. "I figured the winner gets the council seat and the loser gets the coin."

After calling "heads" in the air, Helland walked away with the coin, while Mitchell secured the council seat during the Nov. 14, 2016, canvassing meeting in Breezy Point.

This year, fate will determine—between Larson and Allen—who walks away the head honcho of Manhattan Beach.

Gabriel Lagarde

Whether it's your local city council, all the way up to the Governor's office, government plays a part in every aspect of your life. It's important that the people you elect reflect your needs, your values and your vision, and that's why I'm out covering the people and issues that matter, because they matter to you. But it takes time and resources to dig deeper than face value, to capture the whole picture and do the due diligence, so consider subscribing to the Brainerd Dispatch. Your news. Your reporter. Your paper.  To help support local journalism, click here to sign up to receive a Dispatch digital subscription to our e-edition or to receive the printed paper at your door, or to get both.

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