In the end – after the vote tally, after a recount, and after a tie-breaking roll of the dice – the Brea Olinda school board race was decided by one pip.

Board member Gail Lyons and opponent Lauren Barnes ended the Nov. 3 election with the same number of votes (1,805 each), so on Saturday, Dec. 5, they took turns rolling a pair of dice to determine the winner.

Whoever got the highest roll – or the most pips, those little white dots on the red dice – would take the Trustee Area 5 seat.d

After Barnes rolled snake eyes (that’s both landing on one dot) it was almost certain Lyons would come out on top.

  • The final tally is official after Brea Olinda school board member Gail Lyons and challenger Lauren Barnes ended their race in a tie. A dice roll determined the winner in council chambers on Saturday, December 5, 2020. Lyons rolled a three against Barnes’ two. (Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Brea Olinda school board member Gail Lyons takes part in a dice roll to determine the winner of a tie race against challenger Lauren Barnes in council chambers on December 5, 2020. Lyons rolled a three, just eking out a win against Barnes’ two. (Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Brea Olinda school Superintendent Brad Mason mediates a dice roll between board challenger Lauren Barnes and sitting member Gail Lyons to break a tie vote. Lyons rolled a three, just eking out a win against Barnes’ two on Saturday, December 5, 2020. (Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Brea Olinda school board member Gail Lyons won a dice roll to determine the winner of a tie race against challenger Lauren Barnes in council chambers on December 5, 2020. (Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Brea Olinda school board challenger Lauren Barnes takes part in a dice roll to determine the winner of a tie race against sitting member Gail Lyons on Saturday, December 5, 2020. Lyons rolled a three, just eking out a win against Barnes’ two. Superintendent Brad Mason is at right. (Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG)

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Each would have rolled again had there been a tie, which Superintendent Brad Mason joked was “’not out of the realm of possibility in the world that we live in.”

Lyons, who has been on the board since 2008, said a prayer for the community before shaking the cup that held the dice and turning them out on the table. Her roll gave her a total of three – one more pip than Barnes rolled.

Barnes, a first-time candidate who graduated from Brea Olinda High School in 2021, has previously said she would consider running again and would like to stay involved with local schools.

Before the meeting, she said she would “cross my other finger and say a little prayer,” as she rolled the dice. After her loss, she declined to comment and left in tears with boyfriend Luis Renteria.

Lyons, who joked that “my husband says I can’t even throw a Frisbee,” also teared up at the outcome, saying, “I think everyone is glad it’s over. It’s been a long month.” She will be sworn in for another four-year term on Dec. 14.

Before ending the meeting, Mason called it “’an inauspicious ending to a long process,” and he told both candidates, “Thank you for your willingness to serve.”

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By Richard Moran

Richard Moran loves to write about sports with the Golden State Online. Before that, he worked as a senior writer at ESPN. Richard grew up in San Diego and graduated from the University of San Diego in 2004, after which he worked as an editor for five years.

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