Clement, Gallo both confident as Dem line hinges on absentee ballots

After an agonizingly close primary vote, Democrats Shayne Gallo and Hayes Clement will have to wait at least a week, and likely longer, to find out which of them will carry the party’s mayoral banner into November’s general election.

When the polls closed on Tuesday night, Clement, the party-endorsed candidate who ran with wide support from the city’s Democratic establishment, held a 648 to 642 lead over Gallo. The outcome of the primary then will be decided by 103 absentee ballots and an undetermined number of affidavit votes — votes cast by voters whose eligibility to vote could not immediately be determined at the polling place — which will be counted at the Ulster County Board of Elections on Wednesday Sept. 21, starting at 10 a.m. Absentee ballots needed to be postmarked by Sept. 13 and received no later than Sept. 21.

“Think good thoughts over the next 24 hours,” Clement told his supporters. “I think this is going to work out well.”

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The mood at Clement’s headquarters, located in the Millard building on Broadway, was upbeat Tuesday night. Party leaders, including Chairman Frank Cardinale, Common Council President Jim Noble and Alderman Tom Hoffay, rubbed elbows with business leaders like former Business Alliance of Kingston Chairman Kevin Quilty and developer Steve Aaron. At Gallo headquarters around the corner, the crowd was smaller and more subdued. Ward 5 Alderwoman Jennifer Fuentes represented the Working Families Party, which gave Gallo its endorsement and has actively campaigned on his behalf. Joe DiFalco, incoming chairman of Kingston’s Independence Party committee, was also on hand. At the polls Gallo narrowly fended off Clement’s write-in campaign to snatch away the third-party line by a vote of 28-26. But 10 absentee ballots remain to be counted leaving the Independence line up in the air for now.

“I know it’s going to be close but it will come out in my favor,” Clement said. “I am happy that I won it. I always knew it would be close, I just didn’t know ‘how’ close. I always knew it would be an unprecedented election, just not an unprecedented outcome. … There are lots of interesting implications.”

Gallo, meanwhile, said that he had campaigned heavily at the Golden Hill nursing home and the Governor Clinton Apartments targeting senior citizens who frequently vote by absentee ballots.

“I’m being led to believe that we should be OK,” said Gallo, who praised volunteers from the Working Families Party for an energetic door to door offensive. “We worked really hard to get that vote.”

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