By Brian Maass
COMMERCE CITY, Colo. (CBS4)– The newest Commerce City Council member was decided by a coin toss after current council members were deadlocked on who to choose to fill a vacant seat.
Steve Davis, a former police chief and small business owner, called “heads,” won a coin toss on Aug. 22 and won a seat on the nine-member city council.
“I have always chosen heads,” said Davis, ”my entire life. I have this aversion with tails.”
The process began this summer when a Commerce City councilmember left the board for a different job. The city accepted applications from the public for the open seat and whoever was selected would finish out the 16-month term.
Eleven people applied and 10 appeared at a council meeting Aug. 20 to be interviewed by current council members. Each had a different pitch for why they should be chosen to fill the vacancy.
“It’s a great place to live that’s all there is to it,” said one.
Another said their priority would be getting residents access to affordable health care.
The eight council members went through several votes, eliminating eight of the candidates. The two that were left were Davis and Charles Dukes, who works for the City of Denver.
But when council members voted, four voted for Dukes and four voted for Davis. A second vote was taken with the same result: a 4-4 tie.
Council members decided to adjourn and hold a “meet and greet” with Davis and Dukes the next night so council members could meet the two candidates and their families and break the logjam.
The council then reconvened Aug. 22 to vote again. But nobody had changed their mind or their vote, and the vote was again tied at four apiece. One councilman suggested holding a special election but Mayor Sean Ford dismissed the idea saying it would cost about $20,000.
With the council deadlocked and nobody budging, the members agreed to decide the winner and loser by coin toss. Since Davis’ name started with “Da” and Dukes started with “Du,” Davis was allowed to call heads or tails.
The city clerk flipped the coin and it came up “heads.”
“Heads always seems the best way to go and it has done me well through the years including last month,” said Davis. “It’s all kind of a little bit of a fog. One minute I was in the audience, the next minute I am at the council dais sitting up there. It was a feeling of honor. It’s that feeling of you are relieved that its over but there is a feeling of just pride that you have been selected to serve your city.”
Davis was immediately sworn in and was instantly the newest member of Commerce City council. He told CBS4 he is honored to serve the citizens of and is prepared to tackle challenging issues like growth, housing and fracking.
Although he won by a coin toss, Davis said that should not diminish his term in office.
“I did win by a coin flip, and if I did not win the other person would have won. So it doesn’t matter- a coin flip was the way it happened.”
CBS4 checked and found coin flips and other random drawings have been used to decide deadlocked municipal elections across the country.
“I was prepared to walk away with my head up high because the process was done fairly and was very transparent. I was up there with an amazing man (Dukes) so either way it was a win for me. But the coin went in my favor, and I won, and it’s a big job to fill.”