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Sheriff Wins Re-Election on Flip of Coin

November 11, 1986

GREENVILLE, Ill. (AP) _ Two candidates for sheriff who tied in last week’s election decided the outcome Monday by flipping a coin, but the loser of the toss said he’ll seek a ballot recount.

Bond County Sheriff Bill Willeford, a Democrat who has held the job for 16 years, won the toss over Republican challenger William Gribble. Both men received 2,912 votes in the Nov. 4 election.

Under Illinois law, tie votes in county elections are settled by lot, Bond County Clerk Eldon Roe said. So the race was decided, for the moment, when a coin flipped in front of 200 people jammed into the Bond County Courthouse landed tails-up.

Willeford, who has chosen ″tails″ in a drawing before the coin toss, immediately hugged his lawyer, John Rekowski.

″I feel lucky, real lucky,″ the sheriff said. ″I don’t think it was won or lost by anyone. It was a game of chance.″

Gribble stood silently, his arms folded, and would not comment after the coin toss.

But his attorney, Doug Marti, said Gribble would request a vote recount ″for a couple of reasons.″

″It was extremely close, ending in a tie,″ Marti said. ″Secondly, there were many computer problems the night of the election and we want to check to make sure they (the ballots) were correct.″

″I would have, if I’d lost,″ Willeford said of the call for a recount.

The tie proved that every vote counts, said Vernon Dodson, a retired minister who has gone to the polls faithfully but was out of town last week and failed to vote.

″Just think,″ he said, bemoaning his absence, ″my vote could have made the difference 3/8″

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