BELLEVILLE — An upcoming count of late-arriving absentee and provisional ballots could alter the results of two aldermanic races, one decided by one vote and another by three votes.
According to complete but unofficial results, incumbent Ward 4 Alderman Tim Carpenter lost by one vote to Johnnie Anthony. Carpenter had 286 votes and Anthony had 287.
And, incumbent Ward 2 Alderwoman Dorothy Meyer, who had 313 votes, lost by three votes to Janet Kay Schmidt, who had 316 votes.
"I've already had three people call me claiming they were the three votes," Schmidt said early Wednesday. "It shows how every vote counts."
Schmidt expressed well wishes to Meyer and said she has done a fair job as alderwoman.
"But I think people want a change," said Schmidt, an independent.
Anthony and Meyer are part of the Belleville Good Government Party, which held a majority on the City Council until this election.
Neither Carpenter or Meyer could be reached directly Wednesday for comment on whether they will ask for recounts.
Their respective political allies, however, said the day after the election that the candidates are looking into the possibility.
"Tim and I have talked and we'll be exploring all the options there," said Ward 5 Alderman Joe Hayden, who established the Unified Independent Coaliton for All of Belleville that Carpenter supported.
Schmidt also was part of the coalition.
Hayden ran unsuccessfully for the mayor's seat Tuesday in a three-way race against incumbent Mayor Mark Eckert and former Ward 7 Alderman Phil Elmore.
Eckert, of the Good Government Party, was re-elected for a third term. Elmore, an independent, garnered fewer votes than his opponents and conceded a couple hours after the polls closed.
Six independent candidates defeated mostly incumbent members of the Good Government Party for the seats of clerk, treasurer and aldermanic positions.
Hayden said he did everything he could to improve Belleville and he is proud of all the independent candidates.
"My head's not down at all," Hayden said. "We won some key races. I'm ecstatic over Dallas Cook winning (as clerk). That race in itself shows me that the citizens of Belleville are tired of one-party rule and wants change."
Cook unseated Linda Fields, who had been clerk since 1997.
Hayden said he believes that if there were not two independents running for mayor, then Eckert would have lost.
Eckert had 2,727 votes, Hayden had 2,257 votes and Elmore had 1,513 votes.
Hayden will serve two more years as Ward 5 alderman. Elmore's term as alderman is up.
Hayden said he called and congratulated Eckert on Wednesday morning.
"But I stated to him that I hope we can all look at the numbers here and see that the residents of the city of Belleville are not satisfied in many ways the way the government is being run," Hayden said.
Hayden said he will continue to push and fight for open dialogue, transparency and top issues such as reducing crime.
Hayden also hopes more independents serving on the council means the end of "11th hour" decisions where issues get voted on the same night they are introduced to aldermen.
"Eckert has the duty to respect the voters," Hayden added. "He is the one that has to establish the change of leadership in how we do business."
Eckert said the morning after the election that there will be lots of reorganizing in the weeks ahead.
The newly elected clerk and treasurer will be sworn into office on May 1 because they need to be on the job that day, Eckert said. The new aldermen likely will be sworn in on the same day.
Eckert said a Good Government Party attorney is researching the process of a recount in Meyer's case and mayoral appointment to fill a vacancy on the council.
Dean Hardt is an alderman in Ward 4 and he was elected city treasurer on Tuesday. The mayor will appoint someone, with the council's consent, to fill the seat after Hardt is sworn in.
Hayden said Eckert should appoint an independent to fill Hardt's seat because Hardt is an independent.
If Anthony is still declared the winner after late absentee and provisional votes are counted, it would make sense to appoint Carpenter to the other open seat in Ward 4, Hayden said.
"It was a one vote difference," Hayden said. "With it being so close, both of those people were considered acceptable to the residents of Ward 4."
Eckert said it's too soon for him to speak on who he will appoint because late ballots or a recount could change the outcome of the election in that ward.
Before the mayor appoints an alderman to take Hardt's seat, the City Council is made up of eight members of the Good Government Party and eight independents. Eckert's appointment will tip the balance.
Ken Menzel, deputy general counsel for the Illinois State Board of Elections, said there is no state requirement that the mayor has to appoint someone who is of the same party as the official who held the seat.
In areas were there is a party provision, the requirements do not apply to independent candidates because, by definition, they are not part of a party, Menzel said.
St. Clair County has a party provision but it does not apply to the city of Belleville, St. Clair County Clerk Bob Delaney said. It was unclear Wednesday whether the city has such provisions.
April 23 is the last day for the County Clerk's Office to count the late absentee and provisional ballots. Then election results will be declared official by an April 30 deadline, Delaney said.
Candidates have the option to pay $10 per precinct for a "discovery recount" of up to four precinct's ballots. The results of such a recount, however, do not change the official outcome of the election.
Candidates can officially contest and change the results by filing a petition with the St. Clair County Circuit Clerk for a court hearing.
Contact reporter Jacqueline Lee at firstname.lastname@example.org or 239-2655. Follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/BNDBelleville.