Recounts in two Charleston City Council primary election races will cost the candidates who requested them a total of more than $3,200.
According to an invoice from the Kanawha County Clerk’s Office, the total for recounts in the at-large and Ward 8 races is $3,279.17.
Under state law, candidates who ask for recounts but do not prevail in the race must pay for the recount. Both candidates also paid a $300 nonrefundable deposit.
Longtime councilman Robert Sheets, who requested a recount of both precincts in Ward 8 after he lost by one vote to Charleston businesswoman Kathy Rubio, was charged $894.79.
Sheets said the total for the recount is more than he spent during the campaign. Sheets said he spent about $550. His latest campaign finance report shows he spent $260 for the year.
“If I’d known [the cost of the recount], I would have spent more money in the campaign,” Sheets said. “But you never know what’s going to happen. It was an expensive proposition to challenge it.”
Corey Zinn, the seventh-highest vote-getter in the city council at-large race, was billed $1,784.38, in addition to his $300 deposit.
Zinn had asked for recount of 23 of the city’s 49 precincts, but called for counting to stop after 15 precincts were completed.
After an initial canvass, Zinn trailed Shawn Taylor, who finished sixth in the race, by 28 votes. Only the six highest vote-getters in the primary go on to November’s general election.
Zinn said the total was reasonable, but given the margin in the race, he doesn’t think he should have had to pay for a recount. Some states, excluding West Virginia, have laws that trigger automatic recounts in close races.
Kanawha County Commission President Kent Carper said the commission is following the law when it comes to charging Zinn and Sheets. The costs could have been higher, Carper said.
The county didn’t charge for the commission staff members who worked during the recount, or for the workers’ lunch that day, for instance. The county paid the 12 counters working for clerk’s office for an entire workday, but each candidate was charged only for the hours those employees worked.
Zinn said he will pay the invoice, but is waiting on a check from Charleston Can’t Wait, which has offered to pay half. Zinn said he may consider raising donations to cover the remaining cost, or pay out of pocket.
Overall, Zinn said, requesting the recount gave him a lot more information on the election and the entire process.
“I’m glad to have done it because I didn’t have much information before …they gave us a really huge ballpark on the cost [of the recount],” he said. “It does feel like it was the right thing even if it means we won’t recommend it to other candidates.”