Those who would be Kingston’s next mayor should — but might not — know by the end of Wednesday if they’ve survived the primary and made it onto Nov. 8’s general election ballot.
The scene was set for Wednesday morning’s dramatic recanvassing and opening of absentee ballots by too-close-to-call unofficial results in last Tuesday’s primaries. In the Democratic primary, Hayes Clement, Ward 9 alderman, leads Shayne Gallo, assistant city corporation counsel and brother of the late mayor T.R. Gallo, 648-642 — just six votes. In the Republican contest, Realtor, Ward 1 alderwoman and Common Council Minority Leader Andi Turco-Levin had a slightly larger 21-vote lead over Ward 6 Alderman Ron Polacco, 228-207.
Ulster County Board of Elections Commissioner Vic Work said Tuesday afternoon there were a total of 109 Democratic, 110 Republican, 10 Independent and four Conservative absentee ballots in the office as of Tuesday afternoon. “There are absentee ballots that came in late” — they had to be postmarked by Sept. 12, the day before the primary — “that will not be counted unless a judge orders us to count them,” Work said.
“Opportunity to ballot” races in the Independence and Conservative parties, where challengers won the right to hold a write-in election for those parties’ mayoral lines by filing petitions, will also be finalized. Rich Cahill Jr.’s spot on the Conservative line is not in doubt, but in the Independence tilt, party designee Gallo holds just a two-vote lead over Clement, 28-26.
Work described Tuesday afternoon the process which will take place Wednesday morning, starting at 10 a.m. Totals from each machine will be reread, any write-ins will be verified and added to the tally and then absentee ballots will be counted. As they are counted, candidates can challenge the individual ballots. Those challenged will be set aside for three days to allow for the ballots to be evaluated in state Supreme Court, where a judge will make the final determination on their validity.
“We’re going to start at 10 o’clock with the recanvas of the Democratic campaign in Kingston, and then we’ll move to the Independence and Conservative, and then at 1 o’clock, or no earlier than 1 o’clock, we’ll start the Republican,” Work said. “Absentee ballots will be counted as part of the process, as will the affidavit votes.”