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Coin Toss May Decide Hanover Race

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Only 15 votes stand between Kevin Damian and a seat on the Hanover Board of Supervisors. But maybe, just maybe, a Dec. 11 recount will turn things around.

Damian ran for the open Ashland District seat in November against Ed Via, the district planning commissioner who won the endorsement of outgoing Supervisor Timothy E. Ernst.

Damian ran what he thought was a spirited campaign and expected to win. On election night, a dozen Damian supporters gathered at Sullivan's Irish Pub in Ashland to await the good news. After a longer than expected counting process, the registrar called Damian just after 9 p.m.

"Well, it was disappointment," Damian says. Although 15 votes separated him from Via, there were 19 ballots whose votes were blank or not readable by the electronic scanning machine. That's where Damian's hoping to shrink the margin.

If the returns stay the same, Damian has to pay for the recount. If he shrinks to one-half of 1 percent, the county will pay. If the recount results in a tie, the winner will be chosen -- literally — by a coin toss, says Robert Ostergren, Hanover's general registrar.

"That means either they could potentially flip a coin, but usually they put names in a hat," he says, adding that such a decision would virtually guarantee yet another recount.

Damian's race is close, but it was not the tightest of the 2007 cycle. Robina Rich Bouffault won a school board seat in Clarke County by a single vote. A recount in that race is tentatively scheduled for Dec. 12.

If Damian loses, he says he still plans to stay involved. He spends his days doing installation and repair work for Verizon at the downtown Virginia Commonwealth University campus. He also serves as chairman of the Ashland Farmer's Market, where he sells garlic and herbs.

"Let's just say I'm optimistic, but mainly just curious," he says. "I'd like to think it will change the outcome, but right now that's in the hands of the judge." S



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