Fournier Tops Ballot by Coin-Toss Win


The primary race for Tenino mayor was determined by a coin-toss in the Thurston County Courthouse Tuesday afternoon. Wayne Fournier won the coin-toss to be listed above Bret Brodersen on the November ballot.

“It’s all fun to watch unfold but it’s meaningless in the grand scheme of things. What matters is we get our message out there and winning the election,” Fournier said in a later interview.

The race was tied after the Aug. 4 primary closed and remained that way even after the final three votes were counted Tuesday morning. Those three were votes split between Fournier, Brodersen and John O’Callahan.

“A lot of people didn’t vote that probably wish they had,” said Thurston County auditor Mary Hall. “Every vote does matter, especially in these smaller elections. It’s almost like your vote counts four times.”

Both names were written on a piece of paper and one was randomly drawn from a bucket to determine who would be heads. Brodersen’s name was drawn, but the coin landed on tails, giving Fournier the victory.

Typically the top vote-getter is listed atop of the ballot.

Brodersen and Fournier each had 136 votes, while O’Callahan had 78. Overall, the voting turnout was quite low in the Thurston County primary. At 37.8 percent (351 out of 928), Tenino had a substantially higher percentage of voters turn out than the county at large. Only 22 percent of eligible voters (26,054 out of 116,658) participated countywide.

The last race Thurston County officials recalled as having a tie at the mayoral level was in Bucoda in 2005.

The race was hotly contested in the city after Brodersen made the decision to fire former police chief John Hutchings last March.

“I thought it was interesting that there was a tie and required a coin toss. That’s truly an unusual situation for that to happen,” Brodersen said. “I don’t know that the results of that play true into how people are going to vote. It just shows there’s a lot of interest in the city of Tenino.”

The city became responsible for paying $86,460 for benefits Hutchings received while working as a full-time employee who was classified as part-time. Hutchings recently filed a $850,000 claim against the city for damages, claiming comments by Brodersen have tarnished his reputation.

Brodersen, 39, was appointed mayor in June 2013 after former mayor Eric Strawn stepped down from his position. Brodersen has experience on the city’s planning commission and city council and has also served as mayor pro-tem.

Fournier has been a city councilor for nearly four years. He has also served on various boards and commissions in college and within his career. Fournier, 35, is a professional firefighter and has lived in Tenino most of his life.