By Bethany Bray
---- — SALEM — Jerry Ryan came onto the City Council with a vote recount, and he may be going off the board with a recount, too.
Ryan, Salem’s Ward 4 councilor since 2008, said he’s considering asking for a recount of yesterday’s councilor-at-large ballots.
Ryan came in fifth out of seven candidates running for four at-large spots. According to the city clerk’s unofficial election totals Tuesday night, he trailed the fourth-place finisher, Councilor William Legault, by 28 votes.
In the fall of 2007, Ryan was elected over Chuck Barton by 23 votes, a margin that bumped to 29 after ballots were recounted three weeks after the election. Barton had requested the recount after hearing accounts of voting machines jamming on election day.
Yesterday’s Ward 6 race was even closer than the at-large race: Newcomer Beth Gerard ousted incumbent Paul Prevey by just 17 votes. In that race, five ballots had write-in candidates and 45 were left blank.
The city clerk’s office won’t have official election results for another day or two, possibly tomorrow or Monday. Candidates have until Friday, Nov. 15, to request a recount.
No candidates had requested a vote recount yesterday, according to the city clerk’s office. Prevey could not be reached for comment.
Ryan said he’ll wait until the results are official before deciding whether to seek a recount. Yesterday, Ryan said he called the city clerk’s office and was told that a preliminary look at the ballots indicated the vote may be even closer than 28 votes.
“It’s just so close I think it begs to have a recount,” Ryan said. “Just to make sure. I owe it to the people who voted for me to make sure, and we’ll go from there. ... If results stay the same, I’ll still be active (in the city).”
Either way, the four at-large winners — Legault, newcomer Elaine Milo and incumbents Arthur Sargent and Tom Furey — have his “utmost respect,” Ryan said.
Ryan’s move to the at-large race opened up the Ward 4 spot, which David Eppley clinched over Sean O’Brien, 625 to 497.
Ryan said his time on the City Council has been a positive experience. If he is off the council, he said it could be “a blessing in disguise,” because he’d have more time with his family, which includes three young children.
“No one likes to lose,” he said, “but I’ve done it (been on the council) for six years, and things happen for a reason.”
Bethany Bray can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter @SalemNewsBB.