No Recount: Atherton Concedes In Select Board Race Decided By Eight Votes

JohnCarl McGrady •

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Rick Atherton campaigning on Surfside Road on election day. Photo by Jason Graziadei

There will be no recount of last week’s Select Board election, which was decided by a mere eight votes. Former Select Board member Rick Atherton, who placed a close second to incumbent Dawn Hill Holdgate, released a statement Tuesday morning conceding the race and declining to file a petition for a recount.

“After a fair amount of research, listening to fellow citizens, and much consideration, I have decided not to request a recount in the recent election for a seat on the Select Board,” Atherton wrote in a message to his supporters.

There are no limits on when local candidates can request a recount, as long as they submit a petition with a minimum number of signatures, but Holdgate’s margin of victory was below the 0.5 percent threshold at which recounts are allowed on the state and district level. When Atherton released his statement, he still had three days to submit a petition. With as few as 10 valid signatures, Atherton could have triggered a recount. But it is unlikely that a recount would have changed the result, and Atherton did not feel it was warranted.

“The fact is that recounts rarely change the outcome, even in close elections,” Atherton wrote. “I also have every confidence in the dedicated professionals who conduct Nantucket’s elections — and for whom I have the highest regard. For these reasons, I know that a reversal of the outcome is highly unlikely.”

Nantucket has seen recounts in close Select Board elections before, including the 2006 race between Patty Roggeveen and the late Catherine Flanagan Stover that was ultimately decided by a single vote. But recent close elections have gone unchallenged.

Atherton also noted part of his motivation for declining a recount was to avoid the potential controversy. Since last week’s vote, Atherton and Holdgate have traded barbs, with Holdgate alleging that when they served on the Select Board together, Atherton pushed other board members to vote against her for chair because she was a working mother. Atherton has denied the allegations.

Although he is not requesting a recount, Atherton reiterated his belief that most of Nantucket's residents want a change in leadership.

“As the vote in last week’s election demonstrated, our community is deeply divided: 62.5% voted for change on the Select Board,” he wrote. “But now that the election is behind us, I’m eager to look ahead, and work to find solutions that can actually bring us together.”

Read Atherton's full statement below: 

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