As Yavapai and Coconino counties count more ballots, the race for three Sedona Fire District Governing Board seats gets more exciting.

As of Thursday morning, Nov. 11, at 9 a.m., Ty Montgomery, Phyllis Erick and Dave Blauert hung on to the three openings, but only by a hair.

The gap between Douglas Fitzpatrick and Blauert narrowed from 29 votes to 18 leaving Fitzpatrick just out of reach of the board seat.

Yet, there is a way all four of them could serve.

Currently, the board is operating one-man down after former board member Don Harr resigned. The seat has not be filled and motions on how to fill it have died in a tie vote, 2-2, much like other recent board business.

The current board should simply appoint whichever candidate falls short of election to a seat, whether it be Blauert or Fitzpatrick.

In such a close race, it’s apparent many voters feel both men are worthy to serve.
If the current board takes the initiative to appoint someone now, they could keep balance on the board rather than leaving Montgomery to potentially stand alone in selection of the fifth member.

Seating of these four on the board would give an even split to the two slates. During campaign season Montgomery, Fitzpatrick and Dick Fishel ran on a slate against Erick, Blauert and Joe Demme.

If Montgomery, Erick and Blauert are elected, the board should appoint Fitzpatrick to the empty seat. If Fitzpatrick manages to slip by Blauert in the final days of vote counting, Blauert should be appointed.

The voters have already selected their top four candidates and appointing the No. 4 finisher to serve Harr’s remaining term would be following the will of the people, which is what the board is supposed to be doing.

Ultimately, appointment of a person to fill a vacant seat on any board or council should be in line with who the public would select, not only who the board wants.

In this case, the board is lucky because it knows exactly who the public would want in the fourth seat.