When the large number of Saugerties absentee ballots are counted starting this Wednesday at the Ulster County Board of Elections in Kingston, they will in all probability confirm that incumbent town justice Claudia Andreassen has won the Democratic nomination for a third term as town justice. They are also likely to find that challenger Stan O’Dell has secured the Independence Party line. The results for the smaller parties with only a handful of local adherents – Working Families, Greens, Liberals – may well be decided by the outcome of the absentee ballots.
Andreassen drew a thumping 594 votes in the Democratic primary on Election Day to O’Dell’s 200. With the large number of absentee ballots mailed to and returned by the voters this year, O’Dell has not been mathematically eliminated in his quest for the Democratic nomination. But the almost-three-to-one edge for Andreassen so far gives her an insurmountable advantage, Altogether, according to Democratic county elections commissioner Ashley Dittus, there were 1124 uncounted Saugerties absentee ballots going into last weekend.
With 21 Independence Party votes on Election Day, Andreassen trailed O’Dell, who had 34 on that line. O’Dell had a solid edge going into the counting of the absentees, but with the relatively close margin and the large number of absentee, his win on that line is by not yet assured.
The other significant Saugerties parties, the Republicans and the Conservatives, have yet to be heard from. Given Claudia Andreassen’s apparent popularity, they might just decide to sit this one out. Or they might follow the lead of the Independence Party and seek to endorse O’Dell at their party caucuses.
GOP county elections commissioner and veteran of Saugerties politics Tom Turco suggests there’s a third scenario. It’s not impossible that Andreassen supporters could enter the name of their candidate for the nomination at a Republican caucus.
Also on the Saugerties ballot was a contest for membership on the Ulster County Democratic Committee in eleven of the 16 Saugerties election districts. The ballots on the day of election showed support for most of the incumbent members. But the absentee votes remain to be counted. Long-time party chair Lanny Walter expressed satisfaction at the support for Andreassen and for the existing committee, but indicated that whatever the result he would support it. Change, he said, was part of politics.