Heads You’re Mayor: Tiny Idaho Town To Decide Election With Coin Toss

By Adam Cotterell

The town of Albion east of Twin Falls will decide who its next mayor will be with a coin toss tonight . The general election left the town of fewer than 300 evenly split on their mayoral choice.

Mayoral challenger John Davis says he is not a gambler. In all his 73 years he doesn’t recall having won anything from a coin toss. Davis says he thinks he "won a bottle of after shave lotion at the carnival one time, throwing horse shoes or something.” But tonight Davis’ hopes for a political career will come down to the flip of a coin. That’s how Idaho law says ties in municipal elections will be resolved. 

Davis says he’s not nervous, he doesn’t actually care if he becomes mayor or not. Incumbent mayor Don Bowden didn’t respond to repeated requests for an interview, but Mary Yeaman did. She's Ablion's city clerk and by law she'll toss the coin and declare the winner. 

That seemed like a lot of pressure at first. She says she has decided that whatever happens happens and she is not really responsible. "Probably before the coin toss I might be a little nervous”, says Yeaman.

Cotterell: “Are your hands going to be OK? Are you going to be able to catch it?” 
Yeaman: “I actually think I’m just going to let it land on the floor. I don’t think it will bounce too much.”

The law doesn’t say she has to catch it. In fact it doesn’t dictate any of the details. An Albion citizen has volunteered a silver half dollar for the occasion. Yeaman has an Idaho state quarter in case he forgets. Challenger Jon Davis expects a lot of people to come watch since the coin toss has been the talk of the town.

Davis: “People that are supporting me are telling me they hope I’ll win and they’re going to bring me their special two headed coin. Etcetera etcetera.” 
cotterell: “Is it exciting? I don’t mean to say there’s nothing going on in Albion but is it kind of a…” 
Davis: “No you’re right. There’s nothing going on in Albion.”

Mary Yeaman says she doesn’t leave anything in her life to chance and would never make an important decision by tossing a coin. But she says she can’t think of a better way to settle a tie race because another election would be too expensive.

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