Candidate who won close election in Houston dies

Posted: Thursday, October 18, 2001

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- A 63-year-old city council candidate who won a tight election in Houston died of a heart attack the day before he was to be sworn in.

Carl Burnett, who had defeated incumbent Kim Kasper by six votes, died Monday. He collapsed after pulling into the driveway of a friend's house in Anchorage and never regained consciousness.

''It was so unexpected,'' said Dan O'Brien, a close friend of Burnett. ''There were no warning signs.''

Burnett's death leaves a vacancy on the council and was the latest twist in one of most closely contested elections in city history. Three of the five races were decided by six or fewer votes while one of the other races ended with a tie.

On Tuesday, City Council members held a prayer for Burnett, then watched as the two candidates in the tied race flipped a coin to decide the results.

Incumbent Angela Rosas and Dan O'Brien were tied with 68 votes each after a recount Monday turned up an additional vote for Rosas.

Rosas called tails and won.

Meanwhile, the city wrapped up its investigation into a complaint by a losing candidate that a local bar owned by Burnett's family was offering beers to those who voted.

In a seven-page ruling, city attorney Richard Deuser said there was no proof the bar gave out free beers. But even if the bar did hand out free brews, it didn't matter because beer is not a ''valuable thing'' as defined under state election law, which prohibits giving out things of value in exchange for votes, the attorney said.

Deuser said his ruling might have been different if the claim had been the beer was offered only to those who voted for a particular candidate or if voters were offered something more valuable than a free drink.

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