April 2, 1913: William Prince declares himself winner of mayoral election

William Prince, Duluth’s first mayor under the commission system. (Image: Duluth Public Library)

On this day in Duluth in 1913, William Prince declared himself the winner of the 1913 Duluth mayoral election, defeating W. E. McEwen, Bernard Silberstein, and Marcus Fay. McEwen also declared himself the winner and demanded a recount. The election was held on April 1, but the next day the Duluth News Tribune reported that results of the election “were in doubt”, though Prince did have the lead. The first set of official results were published on the 4th and showed Prince dead last: McEwen, 3,126; Silberstein, 3,098, Fay, 3,067; Prince, 3,032. Four days later, after a recount that found 100 erroneous votes, Prince was declared the winner with 3,132 votes, McEwen second with 3,126, and Silberstein third with 3,108 (the paper didn’t post Fay’s results). Just six votes separated Prince and McEwen, and another recount began even as Prince went about his new duties as mayor. The second recount was called for and paid by McEwen, Silberstein, and Fay, and at first seemed to be worth it, for McEwen, anyway: On the 17th 111 defaced ballots were found, and on the 18th Prince and McEwen were declared tied. But three days later McEwen was nine votes down. When the second recount ended on the 23rd, Prince had 3,148 votes, McEwen was just six votes shy of that, and Silberstein just 8 votes behind McEwen; Fay was 58 votes behind Prince. It took over a month to prove William Prince right. He became the first mayor to serve under Duluth’s new Commissioner system of government, which meant that, outside of some ceremonial duties, he was simply one of five commissioners that made up the city council, specifically, Commissioner of Public Affairs. Read a brief biography of Prince here

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