Coin flip to break tie in Bensenville school board race

A flip of a coin will decide the outcome of the Bensenville Elementary District 2 school board race after final election results left candidates Lori Parthimos and James Stoltman tied for the fourth and final available seat.

DuPage County election officials must hold a random drawing to determine the winner "by lot," as required by state law in the event of a tie.

After consulting with attorneys, Executive Director Suzanne Fahnestock said the county's election division will break the tie with a coin flip at 9 a.m. Friday. That's the more commonly used approach, though in 2003, a name pulled out of a hat settled a deadlocked village trustee contest in Barrington Hills.

Parthimos and Stoltman each received 547 votes, finishing behind outright winners Robert Laudadio, Kathyrine Krajecki and Chris McCullough. The tallies aren't official until the election division certifies the results with the Illinois State Board of Elections April 23.

Election officials finished counting the last of vote-by-mail and provisional ballots Tuesday. Of the 57 ballots received from the district in the two weeks since the April 2 election, Stoltman secured seven additional votes, and Parthimos received six.

Both district parents, Parthimos and Stoltman were challengers in the seven-way race for four available seats.

Parthimos, a special-education teacher in Leyden High School District 212, said Wednesday she will call "heads" in the coin flip. And if she loses? In that scenario, Parthimos said she doesn't at this point see a need for requesting a so-called discovery recount of ballots in up to 25 percent of the district's 18 precincts.

A partial recount is conducted to help candidates determine if there are enough discrepancies to seek a court order for a complete recount.

After election results are certified April 23, candidates have five days to submit a written request for a discovery recount, which won't change the results, Fahnestock said.

Should the coin flip favor her opponent, Parthimos said she would plan to run again in two years.

"I think that there's no winning or losing when it's this close," she said.

For her students, Parthimos has turned the nail-biter into a teachable moment about why voting matters, especially in low-turnout local elections. District voters cast 2,925 ballots.

"Every one of us deserves to be on the board in their own way," she said. " ... The only people who lost are the people who didn't vote."

Stoltman, who works in the IT department at Elgin Community College, said he doesn't yet know whether he would seek a partial recount if he lost the coin flip, but "as of right now" he's doesn't think he would.

"I put in this work. I got to this spot, and I'm tied against teachers and incumbents," he said. "To me, that's huge. I feel like I win already."

A PTA volunteer, Stoltman said he talked with Parthimos Tuesday night and both agreed to support the other in a school board campaign in two years. He said either himself or Parthimos would bring more accountability as newcomers to the board.

"If it's me or Lori, the school wins regardless," he said.

Stoltman wins final Bensenville District 2 seat

James Stoltman
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