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Breezy Point: Mitchell wins council seat with flip of a coin

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Jeff Helland (left) and Gary Mitchell (right) shake hands after Breezy Point Mayor Tom Lillehei flipped a coin to break the city council election tie. Mitchell won the toss and secured a city council seat. Theresa Bourke/Echo Journal 2 / 2

Gary Mitchell won a seat on the Breezy Point City Council on Monday, Nov. 14, after the election ended in a tie Nov. 8.

Mitchell and Jeff Helland both received 477 votes for the second open council seat. In the event of a tie, Crow Wing County Administrative Services Director Deborah Erickson said the city must flip a coin, draw a name or perform another similar task.

Breezy Point went with a coin toss, but given the unusual event, Mayor Tom Lillehei didn't want it to be just any coin.

"It was a George Washington dollar coin," Lillehei said. "I figured the winner gets the council seat and the loser gets the coin."

Lillehei tossed the coin Monday, when the council met to canvass the election results.

After calling "heads" in the air, Helland walked away with the coin, while Mitchell secured the council seat.

Mitchell said he wasn't nervous going into the coin toss, as he knew whatever was meant to happen would.

"I said, 'Lord, if it's supposed to be me, I'll give it my best shot and do my best job. If it's not, then I'm sure Mr. Helland will give it his best shot,'" Mitchell said. "I feel good. I will try to serve the people well - do the best job that I can."

Though the results didn't come out in his favor, Helland admitted the coin toss was a fair solution and said the important part is that the issue is resolved. And he hasn't given up hope of a council seat in his future.

"There's always a couple years from now; I can try it again," he said.

Rebecca Ball received the most votes in the election and won the first open council seat with 669 votes. Breezy Point saw 95 percent voter turnout, with 1,252 voters out of 1,614 registered voters casting a ballot, City Administrator Joe Rudberg said.

Go to pineandlakes.com for a full video of the coin toss.

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