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4-way tie for Sandwich Sewer Commission – but no one wants to take it

SANDWICH — If the greasy pole to political prominence begins with the Sewer Commission, it appears no one in town wants to shinny up it.

This year one of three seats on the commission was open, to be filled by election, but no one stepped forward, leaving an empty slot on the ballot. However, some two dozen write-in ballots were cast and four individuals, each with three votes, tied atop the field.

One of the candidates is a sitting member of the commission. Another is a member of the Board of Selectmen. A third is the member of the commission whose decision to retire left the seat open to election. And the last is a former member of the commission. All of the three able to serve have indicated they have no wish to do so.

Town Clerk Sharon Teel, who has overseen elections in town for the past quarter century, said that she has never encountered such an outcome and sought advice from the New Hampshire Secretary of State. She said that she was told that the winner must be chosen by lot, "by flipping a coin, picking straws or drawing names from a hat." She said that a date and time would be scheduled, the four would be invited, though they need not attend, and a winner would be chosen by chance.

Since one of the four already sits on the commission and the other three have indicated their unwillingness join him, Teel expected the process of choosing a member from among them by lot would be an obligatory but fruitless charade. If her premonition is fulfilled, the task of seating a third member of the commission will fall to the two sitting commissioners.

The outcome of the election, Teel observed, could only occur in a small town with a limited electorate, where the odds of a dead heat are shortest. The weather, she added, shortened the odds further as only 193 of the 1,145 registered voters in Sandwich cast ballots last Tuesday.