The 81-year-old former state representative died of a heart attack shortly after announcing he was running to retain his seat.
"It's called respect. They respected Mr. Erak," said Aberdeen City Council Member Kathi Hoder.
She says she grew to admire the man when they served on council together a few years ago.
"They wanted to honor him, in a memorial kind of way, by voting him back in office," Hoder said.
You might think the man who is losing would feel embarrassed, but Alan Richrod says he's not.
"The story is, John and I were good friends, and we lived, straight line, less than a block from each other," Richrod said.
Richrod is already serving on city council and fellow members elected him to finish John Erak's seat after the 81-year-old former local teacher, principal and school superintendent passed away.
The law says a dead candidate's name stays on the ballot if he or she dies after the filing date. And Richrod's understanding is, it's there so citizens have the option to cast a protest vote against the living candidate.
No matter what anybody suspects, it just seems candidate Richrod is not upset one bit about a dead man beating him out for office.
"I'm sure John's laughing because I think it's funny, too," Richrod said.
KXRO reports Richrod may be appointed to the position, even if he does not receive a majority of votes in the final count.