MORGAN — As a recent soccer coach, Jared Andersen knows a little about unsatisfying wins.
The 47-year-old civil engineer was declared the winner of the Republican primary for Morgan County Commission Thursday night, but in a situation so unusual, it mirrored the anxiety and unease of winning a soccer match in a penalty shootout.
“It was really weird,” Andersen said about an hour after he secured his first political victory. “I wasn’t expecting it to happen like it did.”
It happened in a way that might be a first in Utah.
Thursday night’s unique ending came after Andersen and his opponent, Cindy Carter, finished in a tie in last month’s primary for Morgan County Commission, each of them winning 541 votes. The responsibility of how to break the tie lies with the 2nd District Court, which oversees Morgan and Weber counties.
According to presiding Judge David M. Connors, the judges may break the tie “in whatever manner the judges determine.”
The tie sparked speculation that there may be a coin toss or drawing names from a hat.
In the end, the panel of four judges opted to draw names from a white, glass bowl.
Judge Noel S. Hyde said that when they heard there was a tie in the commission race, the judges sought legal counsel immediately.
“Campaigns can be difficult things, and it’s made even more heightened, as far as anxiety, by having a finish like this,” he said. “The response was, these things don’t happen.”
That brought some levity to the gathering, which consisted of the two candidates, four judges and a handful of county employees.
“This is unique in the experience of all of us here,” Hyde said before explaining how the tie would be broken Thursday night in the commission chambers. “It is unique in the experience of the legal counsel of the state judiciary.”
The judge explained that they’d printed 15 cards with Andersen’s name and 15 cards with Carter’s name. Andersen and Carter each put their name cards into the bowl, then took turns mixing them.
Each of the four judges reached into the bowl and chose a name card. The judge was asked to place it face down and sign and date it. Because there were four judges, they asked presiding Judge David Connors to choose a second name card, which would be the tie-breaker if necessary.
As it turned out, another tie-breaker wasn’t necessary. The first judge pulled Andersen’s name, while the second pulled Carter’s. Then the third and fourth both drew Andersen.
“By the casting of lots ... the election tie-breaker goes to Jared Andersen,” Hyde said.
He congratulated both candidates, after which he turned the meeting over to Connors.
It was such an odd — and somber — situation, Andersen said he’s still processing his win.
“I wasn’t excited,” he said. “It was just odd. We were talking to each other, talking to news people. ... I’m sure once it settles in, I’ll be excited.”
Andersen said he ran for Morgan County Commissioner because he believes he can help improve the processes by which the county makes decisions.
“I’ve seen Morgan County’s processes and some work well and some don’t,” said the life-long resident of Morgan County. “I just want to help improve them.”