UPDATE 4:00 p.m. 03/13/17: The recount confirmed the election night vote totals.
A recount will be held on Monday in a close election for the mayor of Vergennes.
On Town Meeting Day, two-term mayor Bill Benton lost by just five votes to Mike Daniels, who served as mayor from 2007 to 2013. The tally was 265 to 270.
“It was kind of a punch in the gut on Tuesday," Benton said of the results. "I’ve been mayor for four years, wanted one more term before finishing things."
Benton had announced before the election that this would be his last term as mayor.
After attending a few city events in the past year, Daniels said he wanted to get back into city business, especially now that he is retired.
“I expected it to be extremely close, and for sure it was,” Daniels said of the small margin of victory.
Benton said he’s asking for a recount for his supporters.
“For all intents and purposes, the difference is less than 1 percent. I had a lot of supporters email me, call me, stop me and say, just for the sake of clarity, to make sure it wasn’t a mistake,” he said.
Benton filed the paperwork for the recount on Friday morning. The recount will be done by hand instead of by tabulators on Monday afternoon.
“I totally respect that. If I was in his shoes I would be doing the same,” Daniels said.
Daniels was sworn in as mayor on Wednesday, and said he plans to continue work on downtown revitalization and reducing truck traffic in on Route 22A, which is the city’s Main Street — both issues that Benton worked on.
Benton said he would have liked one more term to continue those efforts, and he’s not sure why he wasn’t re-elected.
“It’s not like Vergennes is Rutland. There wasn’t any contentious issue. To all of a sudden go from having 500 people vote for you and then have that vote split in half, I have a hard time understanding why,” he said. “It’s an unanswered question for me.”
In Vergennes, the mayor sets the agenda for the city council and conducts some official business, and receives a small stipend.