Thirteen days after Kingston Democrats went to the polls to select their candidate for their party’s line in the mayoral race, Shayne Gallo emerged from the race victorious after a nerve-wracking absentee ballot count.
On Monday morning, after one last count of 22 disputed absentee ballots, Gallo prevailed over Ninth Ward Alderman Hayes Clement by a hair-thin margin of 708 to 701.
“I look forward to a good race and getting my message out to all of the voters in the City of Kingston,” said Gallo.
The vote count at Board of Elections headquarters on Wall Street was the final act in a drama that began as polls closed on primary night, Sept. 13, with Clement holding a 648-642 lead over Gallo. After a legally mandated one-week waiting period, the candidates, their attorneys and supporters, and media jammed into a conference room at the board of elections office to witnesses the opening of 126 absentee ballots. The result upended the race as Gallo emerged with a six-vote lead over Clement.
The only question was the fate of 22 absentee ballots which had been challenged by the candidates and remained unopened. By Friday, both camps had agreed to forgo a potential court battle, rescind the challenges and open the disputed ballots. The final count extended Gallo’s lead to seven votes; after a last-minute audit of a single Fifth Ward voting district, Clement conceded.
Clement called the narrow loss “heartbreaking” but said that he bore no ill will towards Gallo and looked forward to campaigning on his behalf in the general election. Gallo, who also holds the Working Families Party and Independence Party lines, will take on Republican nominee and Sixth Ward Alderman Ron Polacco and Conservative nominee Rich Cahill Jr. in the Nov. 8 election.
“I said at the beginning of this thing that Shayne was a friend,” said Clement. “And he’s a friend now.”
Photo – Shayne Gallo, right, looks on as attorney Andrew Zweben discusses the results Monday morning outside the Board of Elections office. (Dan Barton)