PLATTSBURGH — Democrat Becky Kasper has pulled off the win in the City of Plattsburgh Ward 5 council race by just two votes over Republican Bruce Lawson.
“I feel as if I’ve run for the same office three times in the last three weeks,” Kasper said.
“But I knew it was going to be challenging going in, and it is all worthwhile. Whatever way this turned out, I was going to be pretty satisfied.”
Lawson led by four votes after the Nov. 5 election, but they were tied after absentee ballots were counted this past Monday.
Three ballots were challenged by Lawson, and he had three days to take those ballots to court.
One of those ballots did go to court because it apparently was filed by a poll worker prior to the date allowed.
Lawson relented on his challenge of the final two votes, and and they were opened Friday morning.
One was being challenged because it was from a disabled person but there was no application for an absentee ballot, and the other was challenged because it was mailed to the voter in Troy.
Both of those votes went to Kasper, giving her the victory.
The final tally was 353 for Kasper and 351 for Lawson.
“The margin of victory was two votes,” Lawson said.
“If anyone thinks their vote doesn’t count, I would ask them to think differently.”
Lawson congratulated Kasper on the win, saying it was a good, clean race.
“I am sure she will do a fine job representing the ward,” he said. “I want to thank all those who voted for me. We ran a positive race and came within a whisker of winning.”
Kasper is the fourth woman out of five councilors to serve in Ward 5 since it was established with re-districting in 1993.
Christine Rotella, Shirley O’Connell and Amy Valentine all represented the ward before Christopher Case ran unopposed and won in 2010.
“I think that just might be a coincidence, but I am happy to carry on the tradition,” Kasper said.
AREA 8 RACE
In other action Friday by the Board of Elections, 79 absentee ballots were opened in the Clinton County Legislature Area 8 race after incumbent Republican Mark Dame dropped his challenge to them.
Of all the local races on those ballots, 349 votes went to Democratic or Working Families Party candidates and only 12 to Republicans.
Dame challenged the ballots, claiming there was a concerted effort by the Working Families Party on behalf of Democratic candidates to get registered voters who normally do not vote to sign off on absentee applications and the ballots themselves.
He said Friday that the results of the challenged ballots proves his claims that voters were duped into filling out possibly fraudulent applications and ballots.
“This is clear evidence that these ballots were tainted and fraudulent,” he said. “These numbers are statistically just about impossible.”
Representatives of the Working Families Party have denied any wrongdoing.
The issue is being investigated by Plattsburgh City Police.
Clinton County Democratic Party Chairman Martin Mannix has been defending the Working Families Party efforts to get out the vote, saying they did not coerce anybody that he knows of.
“If somebody did something they shouldn’t have, then they should be punished,” he said. “But I don’t think there was anything sinister going on.”
Naturally most of the challenged absentee ballot votes went to Democrats, Mannix said, since they were cast by mostly registered Democrats.
“It’s not statistically improbable that they would all vote for Democrats since they are registered Democrats,” Mannix said.
Dame, who received 56 percent of the vote on the voting machines on Election Day, said Mannix’s claims were ridiculous because even Democrats don’t always vote straight across party lines.
He noted that Democrats have a 2-to-1 margin in voter registration in that area.
“If that was the case and Democrats only vote for Democrats, then Mark Dame never gets 56 percent of the vote on the machines,” Dame said.
“For him to say that is insulting the intelligence of the average citizen of Clinton County, and he should be embarrassed about that.”
Email Joe LoTemplio:firstname.lastname@example.org