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South Bend council candidate calls for recall to recheck 15-vote gap

 Ophelia Gooden-Rodgers, left, and Jorden Giger
Photo of Giger provided and Jeff Parrott, WVPE
Ophelia Gooden-Rodgers, left, and Jorden Giger

A candidate who fell just 15 votes short in a race for South Bend’s Common Council has now filed for a recount.

Results from this month’s primary election have Democrat Jorden Giger only 15 votes behind fellow Democrat Ophelia Gooden-Rodgers in a contest for South Bend’s 2nd District on the west side of the city.

Giger recently filed for a review of those results after hearing from his supporters that he should explore all his options.

“Just listening to my team and supporters, I decided to file a recount. So folks can know we did everything possible to try and secure the seat,” Giger said.

Giger is a leader with the South Bend chapter of Black Lives Matter and has been a vocal critic of the city’s Democratic establishment. Giger campaigned with Henry Davis, who left his 2nd District seat to run for mayor against incumbent James Mueller.

Davis’ faction of opposition candidates were largely defeated in the election with every incumbent council member but one winning reelection. Lori Hamann, who has joined Davis in his criticism of city leadership, was the lone council incumbent voted out of office. Mueller's supported candidate for clerk, Bianca Tirado, also ousted incumbent Dawn Jones.

Gooden-Rodgers is a retired A&M General worker and received support from Mueller’s team in the final stretch before Election Day. Posted vote tallies show Gooden-Rodgers won by a margin of 15 votes amid a year that saw low voter turnout.

When asked about the filing, Gooden-Rodgers said Giger is entitled to a recount, but feels confident the review will confirm her victory.

“I want him to be sure of what’s going on so he’s sure that one of us did win and one of us did lose.” “When we get done, I think it’s going to come out the same way; or I even might gain a few more.”

The recount will be overseen by a three-person commission and is expected to be completed by late June.

Only 1,075 votes were cast in the 2nd District Primary with Gooden-Rodgers reporting 545 to Giger’s 530. Overall, just over 10,400 people voted. According to voter data, about 11,000 votes were cast in the 2015 primary and 12,000 people voted in 2019.

Both Giger and Gooden-Rodgers both said the low turnout shows they need to do a better job of engaging residents.

Recounts have been rare in St. Joseph County in recent years and have not resulted in a different outcome. In 2018, Tim Corbett requested a recount after losing to Democratic challenger William Redman in the primary for St. Joseph County Sheriff by 18 votes.

The winner of the Democratic primary will face Republican Roosevelt Stewart in November’s General Election.

Marek Mazurek has been with WVPE since April 2023, though he's been in Michiana for most of his life. He has a particular interest in public safety reporting. When he's not on the radio, Marek enjoys getting way too into Notre Dame football and reading about medieval English history.