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Community still split over divisive ordinance issue

Over the past few months, the Pocatello community has been divided over the city’s non-discrimination ordinance until it came down to the wire during Tuesday night’s election, when voters decided to keep the ordinance in place.

But it was close, with less than an 80 vote difference.

Fair Pocatello co-chair Brenda Stanley said today she can finally breathe a sigh of relief after nerves were high among she and her colleagues who have been in support of sustaining the ordinance in place.

“This is a human rights issue and it impacts everybody,” Stanley said. “That’s what people in Pocatello came out and said, that this is something they want here.”

Ralph Lillig has been leading the cause with the opposing view who has been striving to get people to vote “yes” and repeal the ordinance.

He said it has been an uphill battle with the few resources and money his small group had raised during the campaign, and said everyone is exhausted.

“I told our members when we decided to do this, it’s not going to be easy and it is going to be uphill the whole way…it was David and Goliath,” Lillig said.

Lillig and anyone else who is not happy with Tuesday night’s results has 20 days to ask for a recount.

Lillig said revisiting the result count usually costs about $100 per precinct, and that’s just money his group doesn’t have at the moment.

However, if the vote falls under one-tenth of a percent, reviewing the vote can be done for free.

But with an 80 vote difference, that translates to a slightly larger percentage gap of 51-to-49 percent.

Mayor Brian Blad said he is just happy to have seen how the community cares so much about an issue, that voters reached record numbers at the polls on election day.

“It was impressive to me to see a community that reached out and did go and vote,” Blad said.

Blad said that if a “yes” vote were to have won this election, the city council would have had to draft a new resolution and vote on that.

But that’s not the case.

“From the city’s standpoint, the voters have voted and they upheld the ordinance and so the city council doesn’t have any action at this point,” Blad added.

Lillig said he doesn’t have any plans to go back and review the vote for the time being.

He added that he acknowledges his group caused some heads to turn and people to question their movement, but feels he is the voice for the rest of the 49 percent of the voters who were afraid to speak-up.

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