Coin toss decides winner of small Illinois village election

Williamson County Clerk Amanda Barnes, center, watches as Tammy O'Daniell-Howell shakes the hand of Bryan Reikena after O'Daniell-Howell won the coin toss to win the election for Colp Village, Ill., April, 20, 2017 in Marion, Ill. (Isaac Smith/The Southern, via AP)

MARION, Ill. (AP) — The flip of a coin on Thursday decided the next leader of a tiny town in southern Illinois after an election earlier this month ended in a tie.

Williamson County Clerk Amanda Barnes said Bryan Riekena let fellow candidate Tammy O’Daniell-Howell choose heads or tails before the coin toss. She picked heads.

Barnes said she “let it just fall to the ground” and it landed on heads, making O’Daniell-Howell village president in Colp, home to about 250 residents.

After her victory, O’Daniell-Howell said she made a promise to Riekena, that if she won she would work to find a place for him on the village board.

“I intend to honor that promise,” said the lifelong resident of the village. “We need young voices, we need change, and we need growth.”

O’Daniell-Howell has been the village clerk since 2009. Riekena describes his occupation as “geek.” He attended Southern Illinois University on a swimming scholarship and stayed in the area after earning a bachelor’s degree in chemistry.

O’Daniell-Howell said her long-term plans for the town include creating a community center, which would also function as a storm shelter.

Barnes said she let both candidates inspect the 2016 North Dakota quarter before she tossed it.

“It was the shiniest one I found in the office,” she said, adding the event “went very smoothly.”

The candidates each received 11 votes in the April 4 election. Illinois law calls for coin flips to settle ties.

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