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Bridger Canyon Fire trustee recall result stands after recount

By Colin Cashin, KTVM Reporter, ccashin@ktvm.com
Published On: May 16 2014 10:12:51 AM MDT
Updated On: May 16 2014 06:07:54 PM MDT
BOZEMAN, Mont. -

A recount of recall ballots for Bridger Canyon Fire Board Chairman Mike Conn confirms Conn will lose his seat.

County commissioners asked for the recount after early results showed conn losing his seat by a margin of one vote.

Of the 389 total ballots cast, 195 ballots were for recalling Mike Conn. 194 ballots were against recalling Conn.

NBC Montana witnessed the recount today and spoke to Mike Conn after the results were announced.

Former Bridger Canyon Rural Fire Department Board Chairman Mike Conn sat in the Gallatin County courthouse as the ballots from last week's election were recounted.

Conn later revealed he was, "A little nervous, but you know, it is what it is."

A petition filed last year called for the entire board of trustees to be recalled. Conn was the only one to lose a seat. Friday's recall confirmed his removal.

Reacting to the result Conn told us, "Obviously, I guess, a little disappointed but, you know, it will go on."

On the other side of the table sat John Maloney, representing the Bridger Canyon Safety Coalition, the group behind the recall effort.

The coalition formed last summer after Bridger Canyon's Fire Chief and at least 18 firefighters abruptly quit. Some of fire fighters had been at odds with the board for months.

The Safety Coalition argued the boards actions resulted in bridger canyon being left unprotected.

"Things worked the way they were supposed to." Maloney said.

Relations between the fire board and Safety Coalition have been tense. But Maloney tells me he agreed with the decision to recount the result, saying it was too close not to.

He told us, "Whichever way it came out, that was the thing that I was most concerned about, that it be done right."

Maloney ran for the fire departments board of trustees. He came in third, denying him a spot.

He applied for the open trustee position. The county commissioners will select the person to fill Conn's seat. Maloney said, "I'm sure they will take their time and pick somebody that is going to be qualified."

Despite his disappointment in losing his position, Conn spoke optimistically of the Bridger Canyon Rural Fire District's future, saying, "We still have an excellent board, and a great group of firefighters and volunteers and i'm sure that the department will continue to grow and flourish."

Recounts like the one done today are uncommon but they do happen.

Ballots can be recounted if the margin of victory is less than one quarter of one percent or fewer than 10 votes, which ever is greater.

Recounts like today's are done by hand by Gallatin County commissioners.

Ballots are first condensed to only the relevant election issue before being separated into for and against piles.

Then each pile is counted in groups of 25 before the final number is tallied.

Gallatin County Election Administrator Charlotte Mills says there have been 4 recounts conducted since 2007. Each recount came out to the same total the initial results.

Anyone who wants a recount done a second time has 5 days to file a petition with the county.