People Staff
January 12, 1976 12:00 PM

When voters in little Clyde Hill, Wash. went to the polls to pick a mayor in November, they expected a winner. And a loser. But when the ballots were counted, they got neither. There were 576 votes for Democratic incumbent Liberino (Lib) Tufarolo, and 576 for Republican challenger Miles Nelson. Under Washington law, ties must be decided by lot, and that meant a flip of the coin. “It’s ridiculous to decide an elective office this way,” fumed the 57-year-old Tufarolo. Shrugged Nelson, 51: “It’s the least offensive method to all parties concerned.”

Four weeks later, wives by their sides, both candidates appeared at the King County court house in nearby Seattle, where Ralph Dillon of the county clerk’s office was waiting with a shiny new Kennedy half dollar. As newsmen jostled for position, Dillon tossed the coin aloft as Nelson called “heads!”, then unceremoniously dropped it. “I was afraid of that,” he muttered. To the hoot of laughter, he retrieved the coin, flipped it again, still to the call of “heads!” and slapped it down on the back of his hand. “Heads!” he cried, staring down at the Kennedy profile. “Mr. Nelson wins!”

Momentarily stunned by the caprice of four-bitsmanship, Tufarolo recovered quickly, wished Nelson luck and started slowly for the door. “Maybe it’s time for someone else to take over,” he murmured with tears in his eyes. Winner Nelson seemed equally misty, but quickly recovered his poise. “No matter the method,” he declared stoutly, “I still think it was the right choice.”

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