Incumbent Amherst councilor Ross getting recount of four-vote loss

  • Evan Ross SUBMITTED PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 11/10/2021 3:29:12 PM

AMHERST — Town Councilor Evan Ross will get a recount of the unofficial results from the Nov. 2 town election that show him trailing Pamela Rooney by five votes for one of two seats in his district.

On Wednesday, Ross filed the necessary signatures to have an examination of the count in District 4. Rooney has 478 votes and Ross has 473. Both are behind Anika Lopes, who unofficially earned 568 votes and will begin representing the district when the second-ever 13-member Town Council is sworn in on Jan. 3.

“Given the incredibly narrow margin between Pam Rooney and me, I believe it is prudent to pursue a hand recount of District 4 ballots,” Ross said in a statement. “This will serve to double-check the final tally and provide the voters of District 4 an added measure of confidence in the final result.”

Both Lopes and Rooney support the recount, he said. Ross had to collect at least 10 signatures from those in the district, which encompasses Precincts 5 and 9 and is made up of residents who live in Amherst center and neighborhoods near Amherst College and off South Pleasant Street.

The last recount in Amherst occurred following the annual election in 2003 when voters narrowly rejected a change in the town charter to a mayor-council form of government. Also, Merrylees Turner won a seat on the trustees for the Jones Library by one vote after preliminary results had her deadlocked with a second candidate.

In 2001, the town held a recount for an Amherst Select Board seat, which began with a difference of 11 votes between the candidates. The recount didn’t change the outcome, with Eddy Goldberg prevailing by a 13-vote margin.

Both recounts involved daylong examinations of ballots by official counters, including town clerks from other communities and town employees who don’t live in town and who were observed by representatives of the candidates.

Town Manager Paul Bockelman said recounts have typically been held in the Town Room at Town Hall, but might have to be moved to a larger room at the Bangs Community Center due to the pandemic.

In his statement, Ross said his appeal for a recount is not a judgment on the work done by Town Clerk Sue Audette, her office, election wardens and election volunteers, but rather to provide assurance to voters. He noted that those running the election did so amid an ongoing pandemic and with early voting and vote-by-mail being used for the first time in a local election.

“Their ability to navigate these challenges and successfully conduct an election shows their strength, and I continue to have full faith in our town clerk and the integrity of our elections here in Amherst,” Ross said.

Ross also thanked his supporters and those lifting him up during a challenging election. He congratulated Lopes, as well.

“Over the past several months I have gotten to know Anika,” Ross said. “She is thoughtful, collaborative, and driven by a strong vision for our town. I am excited for all that she will bring to the Town Council.”

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.


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