February 9, 2013

New Essex County election commissioner takes office


---- — ELIZABETHTOWN — A controversy ended as newly appointed Essex County Republican Election Commissioner Allison McGahay took her place on the Board of Elections.

McGahay had been recommended by the County Republican Committee, after the its first selection of incumbent Commissioner Derinda Sherman was not acted on by the County Board of Supervisors by a mid-January statutory deadline.

Supervisors gave various reasons for doing nothing on Sherman’s appointment, ranging from the matter slipping through the cracks to her delay in posting results on election nights.

Supervisor George Canon (R-Newcomb), the senior Republican on the board, had successfully moved McGahay’s appointment as commissioner at a Republican caucus.

He said she wanted to address the Board of Supervisors, which was holding its regular monthly meeting. She was previously an Essex County assistant district attorney, leaving at the end of 2012.

“I appreciate the opportunity to serve the county after my five weeks off,” McGahay said.


A Massena native, she moved to Lake Placid and worked at Ray Brook Federal Correctional Facility, then went to law school.

“When this position became vacant, it seemed like a perfect fit for me, with my background. I appreciate the blind faith in me.”

She said she’ll try to address all the issues at the Board of Elections to the satisfaction of county lawmakers.

“The elections are local this year. I want it to go smoothly.”

McGahay now works for the James Brooks law firm in Lake Placid.

Election commissioners receive about $18,000 a year and are part-time county employees, while deputy commissioners are full time.

“It’s a real honor. I truly appreciate the opportunity,” McGahay said.

Supervisors applauded her as she left the podium.

McGahay said after the meeting that Sherman stayed on to help her start the new job and briefed her on current election issues.

“She was very helpful. She got me up to date on everything.”

One action they must take now, McGahay said, is to update the firmware on all the county’s electronic voting machines before the next election.

“That’s a mandate from the State Board of Elections. We had to call the manufacturers and tell them we need it done.”

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