It was just another case of "pick a council member, Vegas-style."
Longtime West Valley resident Carolynn Burt won an opportunity to serve on the City Council Thursday night when her name was drawn out of a glass serving bowl.Burt, 61, will replace the late Leland DeLange, a 15-year council veteran who died Aug. 29 after suddenly contracting a rare and debilitating brain disease.
It is the second time this week that a Salt Lake Valley council seat has been decided by chance.
In Murray, former Councilman Lynn Turner on Monday regained the seat he lost in last November's election when he was the lucky winner in a similar drawing.
The West Valley drawing became necessary after the council deadlocked on whether to appoint Burt or another candidate, Ronald Vandermyde, to serve out DeLange's unexpired term.
Council member Barbara Thomas moved to appoint Burt, and the other two women on the council, Margaret Peterson and Janice Fisher, gave their support.
But the motion died on a 3-3 vote when Mayor Gearld Wright joined councilmen Russell Brooks and Duane Moss in voting no.
A subsequent motion by Brooks to appoint Vandermyde suffered a similar fate, with the vote coming out 3-3 along gender lines.
At that point, the council was compelled by state law to rely on the drawing of lots. Each candidate's name was written on a slip of paper, and they were then placed in a clear glass bowl.
A West Valley resident attending the meeting then was asked to draw out one name, and it was Burt who benefited from the luck of the draw.
The new councilwoman, however, deferred being sworn in until Friday morning because she wanted to be "appropriately dressed" for the occasion.
"I was plumbing," she explained, when a sudden call from City Hall summoned her to a special council meeting for the drawing of lots.
Burt said she immediately dropped what she was doing - installing a vent pipe on a water heater in one of her rental units - and rushed to the meeting without changing clothes.
Her swearing-in ceremony was rescheduled for 7:30 a.m. Friday at the E Center.
Burt, who has been serving on the city's Parks and Recreation Committee the past year, said she is "awestruck" by the assignment of replacing DeLange.
"Nobody, but nobody, is going to fill those shoes," she said.
But the new councilwoman added she looks forward to the challenge of representing District One with its extraordinary cultural and ethnic diversity.
One outcome of the vote is that it makes West Valley City unique among Utah communities because a majority of its council members now are women.
Despite the fact Thursday night's vote broke out along gender lines, council members were quick to point out that gender was not a factor in selecting DeLange's replacement.
"It may have looked that way, but gender was never an issue," said Brooks. "We had a no-lose situation with the two candidates."
"We welcome Carolynn with open arms," added Moss. "She's a great lady."
Thomas agreed, saying the basis for the divided vote was simply an honest disagreement over which person would do the best job.
As for the fact that all three female council members voted for Burt, she said, "That's just the way it came out."