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East Helena City Council picks Dahl for second term, resolving tied election

East Helena City Councilmember Don Dahl and challenger Kelly Harris, who both received 165 votes in November's election.

(EAST HELENA) After a tied election that led to weeks of uncertainty, East Helena City Council members have decided who will represent the city for the next four years.

During a special meeting Monday night, the council unanimously selected Don Dahl, who currently represents Ward Two, to serve another term.

Dahl and challenger Kelly Harris each received 165 votes in this month’s election. After a recount found the race was still tied, state law required the remaining three members of the council to pick a winner.

Councilmember Mike Misowic called the decision the hardest he had to make during his time on the council.

Leaders praised both men for their dedication to the community. But in the end, they selected Dahl, based on their experience working with him on the council.

“Don’s sat here for four years next to me,” said Councilmember Kit Johnson. “That’s the only reason.”

Dahl was first elected to the city council in 2013. He said in his second term, he wants to focus on developing a master plan for the city’s infrastructure and on increasing public participation in city business.

Dahl said he believes the tied race could turn out to be a benefit for the city.

“It brought a lot of publicity to East Helena, and I think it was good publicity,” he said. “Kelly ran a very good race, and hopefully we’ll see more of him in the future.”

City leaders echoed that sentiment, thanking Harris and encouraging him to stay involved in East Helena – and consider running for city council again.

“I think the city could use you and could use your passion in a lot of different areas,” said East Helena Mayor James Schell.

The Ward Two council race was East Helena’s only contested election this year. Schell and Ward One Councilmember Judy Leland were both reelected without opposition.