Laura Cottington is the winner of the third Osseo school board seat up for grabs -- and that's final.
A recount requested by Teresa Lunt, who finished fourth in the Nov. 4 election, was completed last week, and it confirmed that Cottington edged out Lunt. The final margin of victory? Sixteen votes out of almost 29,000 cast for the two candidates. Translated into raw totals, Cottington got 14,405 votes, Lunt 14,389.
Cottington's margin of victory was actually smaller in the Election Day tally -- 10 votes.
"I felt that with the margin so close I owed it to myself and my supporters to request the recount," said Lunt, a Maple Grove parent. "It gave me confidence in the process and verified the results. I feel good about it one way or the other. I feel the process is fair and went very well."
Ten candidates were listed on the school board ballot on Election Day. Since all school board members in Osseo represent the entire school district rather than specific communities within the district, all the candidates were running for three districtwide seats. The three candidates with the most votes won.
Osseo district spokeswoman Barbara Olson said the recount took a week, beginning Nov. 18 and ending Nov. 25. The recount was done by election judges in each of the cities represented by the Osseo district. The school board clerk supervised the recount. According to Olson, a recount is allowed by law because the difference in votes was less than one-half of 1 percent of the totals for Cottington and Lunt.
Olson said the district will foot the bill for the recount, but district officials don't yet know what the cost is.
Cottington, also a Maple Grove parent and co-chair of the district's parents legislative network, said she slept only an hour and a half on election night. When she went to sleep, the difference between her vote total and Lunt's was between 50 and 100 votes. When she woke up, that vote difference had shrunk to seven. Later in the day, it rose by three votes.
"I didn't know what to anticipate," said Cottington, who, like Lunt, was a first-time school board candidate. "I was expecting anything. I knew it was going to be close."
Though top finisher and incumbent Dean Henke won by a wide margin, with 18,541 votes, the next four candidates were much closer together.
"From second to fifth place there was literally only a 500-vote spread," Lunt said. "We were all bunched on top of each other."
Fifth-place finisher Jennifer DeJournett got 14,192 votes, only 200 votes behind Lunt, before the recount.
Osseo school board members serve four-year terms. The three members elected last month begin their terms in January.
Norman Draper • 612-673-4547