Nail biting? Nah: Shandaken, legislature candidates await absentee counting calmly

Kathy Nolan and John Parete.

Shandaken candidates and residents have a long wait ahead of them until absentee ballots are counted to determine the outcome of both the Ulster County legislator race for District 22 and the contests for town supervisor and council members. Adding to the wait is the count for district attorney, which takes priority, as candidates Michael Kavanagh and Dave Clegg were separated by only three votes on Election Day. The absentee ballot count will begin on November 18.

Ulster County Legislator Kathy Nolan won her seat in 2017 after the absentee ballots put her 60 votes ahead of former legislator John Parete, despite Nolan’s 20-vote lag on Election Day. This year, the gap is wider, with Parete 43 votes ahead. 

“I’m looking forward to the count,” said Nolan, while acknowledging this year’s contest will be tighter, due to the wider gap and the fact that she’s in a two-person race. Last time around, three candidates were vying for the seat, with Republican Clifford Faintych earning 808 votes to Parete’s 1089 on the Conservative line and Nolan finishing with 1149 as a Democrat. This year, she pointed out, she took over 400 more votes than in 2017, with a tally of 1519 as of Election Day. Parete, an enrolled Democrat now running as a Republican, polled 1562.

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When Parete was asked how he was feeling about his prospects for returning to the legislature, he said he wasn’t worrying about it. “What is, is. There’s no reason to agonize over anything, or even for that matter, to wish. It’s been done, the die is cast, and I have a job to do, running the Boiceville Inn. If I win, that’ll be great.”

As of November 12, the Board of Elections reported receiving 153 of the 256 absentee ballots sent out, including 87 from Democrats and 44 from Republicans, with 15 unaffiliated and another seven from other parties.

Shandaken town races also in suspense

Shandaken supervisor Rob Stanley expects that once the absentee ballots are counted, the town races will stand with the candidates in the same order as the Election Day voting left them. Stanley, a Republican, is ahead of his Democratic challenger, Brian Powers, by 35 votes, 543 to 508. The two town board candidates currently in the lead are Democratic council member Peter DiSclafani (526 votes), and Republican Kyle Steen (516), with Vivian Welton (492, a Democrat) and Ken Booth (480, a Republican) close behind.

Among the 90 absentee ballots mailed out, 51 went to Democrats, 25 to Republicans, and 14 to other parties or non-affiliated voters. After looking through the Board of Elections list of residents who requested absentee ballots, Stanley feels the majority are more likely to vote for him and the other Republicans than for Powers and his running mates. As of November 12, 55 absentee ballots had been returned, with 35 still to be received, but some of the individuals who ordered them may have voted during early voting instead.    

“I’m cautiously optimistic,” said Powers. “All the candidates have been studying the ballot list. I think the supervisor race will be decided by a dozen votes.” He expects DiSclafani will keep his lead in the council race, while it’s a toss-up between Steen and Welton, currently 24 votes apart, for second place. “But anything is possible,” he added.

“I’m not surprised it was close,” Stanley remarked. “I thought with people upset about Trump, there might be a blue wave. But it was a good, clean campaign on both sides.”

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