Walker County sole commissioner candidate Paul Shaw, according to his posting on the LaFayette Underground Facebook site late last night, will ask for a recount.
Shaw lost Tuesday to incumbent commissioner Bebe Heiskell by 211 votes.
Shaw wrote, “Voters of Walker County: Thank you for your votes and support. It isn’t over! I don't concede. Provisionals aren't included yet and we are filing for a recount. Two-hundred and eleven votes is too close to give up now. I've been so blessed to have the support you've shown. Don't back down now! Make your leaders accountable, no matter what the final outcome of this election is. Thank you again.”
But Shaw, reached by phone this afternoon, said he isn’t so sure now about a recount. “We don’t have any money,” Shaw said. “I can’t afford to ask for a recount.”
The Walker County Elections Board confirmed there is no charge for a recount.
Shaw also said he isn’t sure whether anything unethical happened in the counting of the votes.
“I really haven’t even considered that,” he said. “I have been told that a (vote-tally) card from up around the precinct in Hinkle disappeared for about an hour,” he said. “Some of the folks that have called me, they had a questioned about whether there was something funny going on. I don’t really have an opinion.”
Barbara Berry, Walker County supervisor of elections, said this morning she has not yet received a formal request from Shaw for a recount. This afternoon she said there were not any issues with the missing card, which was left in a sealed machine that was brought to the elections office along with all the others.
"He would have to come in here and talk to the election office about it (holding a recount) and we would proceed from there," she said.
Berry said she doubted a recount would change the outcome. "Whatever ballots that were run through the machine last night will be the same ballots that will be run through again," she said. "I don’t know how the machine would change a count. … We have ballots to match envelopes, envelopes to match envelopes."
Shaw’s wife, Irma, contacted by phone early this morning, said her husband was also concerned that Heiskell might have brought absentee ballots to nursing home residents.
Heiskell said she was thankful that the results, as close as they were, put her in the lead, but said she is upset that Shaw and his wife believed she might have taken absentee ballots to a nursing home.
“Why would he say so?” she asked. “I think anyone who says silly things about their opponent after an election is a sore loser.
“I know she was in the nursing home,” said Shaw. “I didn’t see anything. I have no firsthand knowledge. I was told that she was helping people, what she was doing I don’t know.”
“I never took any absentee ballots anywhere,” said Heiskell. “The only absentee ballot I touched was that of my daughter...I did go to the nursing home but I didn’t take anything in there, I didn’t even take my purse in. I didn’t even take any absentee ballot applications in there.”
“That’s the first time I’ve ever gone to a nursing home. Maybe that was a mistake, but those people seemed glad to see me. They asked me to come back.”
After the amount of controversy that has been appearing, mostly online, throughout the campaign, Heiskell is grateful that her supporters edged her into the lead.
“I was just thankful that I won,” she said. “It was very close, and I don’t know what to think about that.”
Heiskell credits the social media presence of Shaw’s campaign for the close results.
“Online is getting more important every day basically,” said Shaw. “I think it will become more important as time goes on.”
“It had a huge impact, social media," said Heiskell. "They did a character assassination on me that was very effective.
“My opponent worked very very hard for a long time, and that gets results.”
Though Heiskell had heard about the rumblings of discontent spread on the popular blog and Facebook page belonging to the LaFayette Underground, she stated she never actually read the postings and didn’t take the time to acknowledge them.
“I really do not have time to read those things,” she said. “Every time I ever try to answer anything, it’s just another slew of questions. ... I don’t think I would have done as well as I did if I had taken the time to constantly answer people who despised me.
“I really didn’t maybe give them enough credence,” she said. “There was a misconception there among some of my supporters that I was a shoe-in and that wasn’t right.”
Heiskell admits that her busy schedule prevented her from campaigning as hard as she perhaps should have.
“I really feel guilty campaigning. I have a job to do. ... I did get behind in campaigning, but I didn’t assassinate anyone’s character in doing so.”
During the hour or so Tuesday night when the final election results for the commissioner’s race were too uncertain and too close to call, Heiskell recalls sitting at her campaign headquarters with her supporters, anxiously awaiting results from the last two precincts.
“Everybody was pretty happy when the returns came in,” she said. “They were just sitting there biting their nails. ... They were just holding their breath. It was a very tense time.
“I’m thankful,” Heiskell said. “I’m thankful for winning. I’m thankful that my employees get to keep their jobs.”
Asked if she plans to run again in four years, Heiskell could on says that “it depends on what happens between now and then.”
Shaw said definitively that he will not be running again in four years.