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Benton City, Washington’s City Hall is located at the end of a strip mall off Dale Avenue.

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A Benton City businessman continues to trail an incumbent councilor by 13 votes after a privately funded recount on Monday.

Benton County election officials recounted about 600 ballots in the race between Alexander Weber and David Sandretto and found no change in the result, said Amanda Hatfield, election manager.

The difference between the two candidates was not enough to trigger an automatic county-paid recount. An automatic recount is triggered when two candidates are separated by less than 2,000 votes and this number corresponds to 0.5% of the votes they received.

In this case, these 13 votes represented a distribution of more than 2% between the candidates.

Sandretto led his opponent with 50.7% of more than 600 votes against 48.6% for Weber.

Weber, who owns a financial advisory firm, has put down a $150 deposit and will have to cover the county’s costs for the recount. We don’t know what the total will be.

The tight race came as voters ousted an outgoing city council member and elected a newcomer to another location. And this followed an unsuccessful attempt to adopt a municipal management system of government.

After the initial count, Weber was leading the race, but fell behind as more votes were counted.

The race itself was marked by a legal challenge over whether Weber lived in the city. After a lengthy hearing that brought a number of residents and city officials to testify, Judge Cameron Mitchell ruled there was insufficient evidence to show he did not live in Benton City.

Both candidates said they were looking for change in the small town of about 3,300 people west of West Richland.

Although automatic recounts are not common, they do occur from time to time.

Last year, a close primary race between Benton County Commissioner Jim Beaver and challenger Joe Lusignan sparked a recount. In 17 years, it was the first time Hatfield had seen a candidate request a recount.

The canvassing committee, made up of representatives from the offices of commissioners, auditors and prosecutors, is expected to finalize the results.

This story was originally published December 6, 2021 2:58 p.m.

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Cameron Probert covers breaking news and education for the Tri-City Herald, where he tries to answer readers’ questions about why police and firefighters are in your neighborhood. He studied communications at Washington State University.