After eight votes, Superior's City Council failed to elect a new president Tuesday, April 16.
The reorganization takes place every third Tuesday in April, following spring elections, and the Council elects a new president and vice president to provide leadership to the Council and city.
The president is responsible for making appointments to Council committees and takes on the role of acting mayor in the event the mayor can't fulfill the duties of office.
Councilors Ruth Ludwig and Brent Fennessey were nominated for the Council leadership post.
However, councilors couldn't reach a consensus on how to vote, or who should serve as their next president..
Repeatedly, Mayor Jim Paine broke a tie to keep councilors from voting in secret even as Councilor Craig Sutherland pushed for a vote by secret ballot.
"We were elected with a secret ballot," Sutherland said. "Mayor Paine, you were elected with a secret ballot."
Councilors Jack Sweeney, Brent Fennessey, Craig Sutherland, Keith Kern and Esther Dalbec gave their support to Fennessey in four separate votes before the Council elected to hold the elections after other business was completed. Councilors Jenny Van Sickle, Warren Bender, Ludwig and Tylor Elm favored Ludwig, while Councilor Dan Olson abstained from voting.
That dynamic didn't change despite eight rounds of voting.
"I think we owe it to the public to resolve this decision," Paine said.
After the third vote failed to elect a new president, Olson asked the mayor if he intended to exercise his right to break a tie, and abstained again when Paine affirmed he would.
"I intend to vote if there is a tie, Paine said.
Olson favored letting a deck of cards decide the council presidency if there was a tie. He suggested a motion to cut the cards in the event of a tie, but Paine and City Attorney Frog Prell advised him the council couldn't take Paine's statutory right to break the tie away from the mayor.
"Councilor Olson famously knocked out Councilor (Tom) Bridge with a queen of diamonds over a three of clubs," Prell said.
Olson won the council presidency in 2009 when then-Mayor Dave Ross decided not to break a tie between Olson and Bridge. In 2010, Ross reconsidered his position on voting for council leadership, and Olson lost a leadership bid when Ross cast a tie-breaking vote for vice president in Bridge's favor.
"If we had the opportunity to go into a fair cut of the cards, I'm pretty sure this could be ended in the next vote," Olson said.
"I don't believe an issue as important as the potential acting mayor in the event that I cannot serve should be left to chance," Paine said.
"Mayor, I am pleading with you that the most transparent thing to do - will allow the process to go through that we have done in the past - and allow a cut of the cards," said Olson, who accused the mayor of "holding this whole thing up."
"Mayor Paine, I just want to express that if you say you won't break a tie, this could end right now with a cut of the cards," said Sutherland, who was elected vice president Tuesday night.
"That is not the statutory process," Paine said. "The public elected me to exercise the authority of the mayor. The authority of the mayor is to break ties."
City officials on Wednesday, April 17, were still trying to determine if Kern, council president for the last year, would continue in that role or Sutherland would serve as an acting president until the Council makes a decision.
"It's obvious to me ... we should adjourn this meeting and continue it on in whenever the next meeting is," Sweeney said. "We're not going to get anywhere it seems to me at least. To just have another vote is ludicrous. I think cooler heads may prevail. Maybe we'll have the time to think this through."