With one candidate congratulating the other’s victory after an extremely close election, it seems safe to call it: Limina Grace Harmon will be the candidate representing the county legislature’s District 20 for the Democratic line on November’s ballot, edging out village trustee William Wheeler Murray 194-190. In congratulating Harmon on the narrow win, Murray commented wryly: “The recount is over, and I’m four under, which would make me not the winner.”
Election officials confirmed Murray’s report on Friday. Commissioner Ashley Dittus explained that all the ballots were recounted by hand, which resulted in Murray picking up one vote. “The ballot that was discovered during recount and ruled to be a ballot cast for William Wheeler Murray was a ballot that the tabulator counted as an overvote,” Dittus explained. “The voter marked the ballot bubble for Murray and then wrote his name in the write-in box. The tabulator did its job: it doesn’t read the names of write-ins; we canvass those by hand and when a voter marks the ballot in this way they did overvote the contest, however, case law has established that when a voter marks the bubble and then writes the same name of the candidate in the box and there are no other identifying marks (i.e. the voter signing their name, for example) the court ruling is that the intent is clear and the ballot count should be adjusted to grant voter intent to the candidate being voted for.”
That extra vote may have made it even more of a squeaker, but it’s not enough to put Murray over the top. Moreover, neither the candidate nor the elections commissioners anticipate that anything will further change the results. “We are prepared to certify the results as final on Monday, after we conduct a 3% audit of randomly selected primary voting machines, the final requirement of the certification process under the election law,” Dittus said. “I already have the certification drafted, and we are going to sign and finalize the results Monday.”
Nevertheless, it’s a strong showing for a candidate whose platform included a simple message: You have to have choice. I think that’s important to people.”
As this was just a party primary, Harmon will appear again on the November ballot, but there are no other challengers for the position.
Murray expressed confidence in the results. “I’m glad we have these steps and measures to ensure a fair election. There is no truer example that every vote counts.” Murray did observe that awareness seemed low among New Paltz voters, and speculated that in June “they are thinking of the pool, not the polling place.” Murray supports the idea of moving local elections to even-numbered years in an attempt to boost turnout.
Harmon will take the seat in January. It’s presently being kept warm by appointee Tricia Bowen after Eve Walter resigned early due to work commitments. “I’m genuinely thrilled to serve at this time,” and be part of a “tremendous brain trust of leadership to serve our county.” Preparation for Harmon includes getting up to speed with the help of both Bowen and Walter, as well as connecting with future colleagues. While not committing to anything specific during this time of transition, Harmon reiterated top priorities to be addressing the crises in housing and mental health care in the county. Harmon expects that green building will play an important role in lifting up the quality of life for county residents.
Murray will continue to serve as a New Paltz village trustee, and both Harmon and Murray expressed a desire to work closely together on future projects.
Final votes were also counted on Friday in three other primary races that were too close to call on June 27.
For the Working Families line for town justice in Saugerties, judge Stan O’Dell defeated Aimee Richter by a vote of 25-18.
And in the race for Hurley town clerk, appointed town clerk/tax collector Annie Reed won against Tracy Kellogg 308 to 292.
In the three-way contest for two seats on the Hurley Town Board, incumbent councilmen Gregory Simpson and Peter Humphries received 369 and 332 votes respectively to secure a spot on the Democratic line in November’s general election. Diana S. Cline received 325 votes.