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NLV council candidates draw cards for spot on general election ballot

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Leila Navidi

Tanya Flanagan, right, reacts when she sees that her card is lower during a card drawing to determine the second place winner in the open Ward 2 race between candidates Tanya Flanagan and Linda Meisenheimer, who tied in the primary, at the North Las Vegas City Council chambers Thursday, April 21, 2011.

Updated Thursday, April 21, 2011 | 9:18 p.m.

Card Draw in NLV

Linda Meisenheimer reacts after winning  a card drawing to determine the second place winner in the open Ward 2 race between candidates Tanya Flanagan and Linda Meisenheimer, who tied in the primary, at the North Las Vegas City Council chambers Thursday, April 21, 2011. Launch slideshow »

North Las Vegas Card Draw

Linda Meisenheimer drew the high card in the card draw to determine who will be the second name on the June 7 general election for the North Las Vegas Ward 2 council seat. Meisenheimer and candidate Tanya Flanagan received 328 votes each during the April 5 primary election. Since neither requested a recount, by law, the tiebreaker was determined by lot, or by the draw of the higher card. Meisenheimer drew a king of diamonds; Flanagan drew a five of diamonds.

It all came down to the luck of the draw in the race for North Las Vegas’ Ward 2 council seat Thursday night, as Linda Meisenheimer drew a high card to get on the June general election ballot.

In the April 5 municipal primary race, Meisenheimer and candidate Tanya Flanagan tied for second place, both receiving 328 votes, or 20.7 percent of the vote.

Since neither candidate requested a recount, by state law, the winner is determined by lot — drawing for a high card from a standard playing deck.

Meisenheimer’s king of diamonds bested Flanagan’s five of diamonds.

The draw was made in front of a few dozen residents and media in the council chambers at City Hall. The two nervous-looking candidates met in front of the dais, where a green table was set up with a single deck of cards.

Mayor Pro Tem William Robinson broke the seal on a new deck and removed the jokers. David Hernandez, the director of the College of Southern Nevada casino management program then shuffled the cards.

Gerald Schaffer a former Clark County Planning Commissioner who has no affiliation with the city, cut the deck, and Hernandez fanned the cards on the table so the candidates could choose a card.

Flanagan took the first card and revealed it to the group huddled around the table. It was the five of diamonds.

Meisenheimer then drew the king of diamonds.

Picking a winner by lot has only occurred four times in Nevada history. Thursday night’s drawing was the first in Clark County.

“We made history,” Meisenheimer said, adding that she felt lucky. “This really shows people, North Las Vegas, Vegas, anywhere, that every vote does count.”

Flanagan said, “I think the situation and the circumstances it came down to was unfortunate for the voters as a whole. I think this is a call for voters to get involved and be engaged and maybe one day, this antiquated way of breaking a tie will change because it doesn’t cost any more money to have three people on the ballot.”

Hernandez and Schaffer said they felt the drawing was fitting for Nevada, known around the world for its casinos and gambling.

“We are a gaming community,” Schaffer said. “It’s an honest but peculiar way as you can imagine” (to determine the winner of an election).

“It was really exciting to be a participant in a process that goes beyond the election,” Hernandez said. “It’s very unique. This is our character.”

Meisenheimer will face Pamela Goynes-Brown, the daughter of former mayor Theron Goynes, in the June 7 general election. Goynes-Brown received the most votes in the primary race for Ward 2 with 425 votes, or 26.8 percent.

For Meisenheimer, the drawing means she can start campaigning in earnest, she said.

“I’m already almost three weeks behind,” she said. “There’s no rest now. We need to start working hard.”

When asked by a reporter if she planned go gambling after winning the card cut, she chuckled.

“If anyone knows me, I’m not a gambler. I don’t have very good luck,” she said. “No, no, no. I’ve pushed my luck already.”

CORRECTION: Linda Meisenheimer's first name originally was published as Melinda. | (May 2, 2011)

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