By LOHR McKINSTRY
---- — ELIZABETHTOWN — Wednesday’s recanvass of the Minerva town supervisor race still left independent candidate Stephen McNally as the winner.
And it looked as if, thanks to absentee votes, Election Day results showing Democrat Russell Paquette losing a bid for a seat on the Westport Town Council may have flip-flopped.
In Minerva, McNally had been leading incumbent Democrat Sue Montgomery Corey by 8 votes on election night, but the victory hinged on 26 absentee and three affidavit ballots waiting to be counted.
The final, unofficial count after the recanvass, was 209 for McNally and 192 for Corey.
McNally picked up 17 more votes, while Corey got eight more.
Two affidavit ballots were voided, and two absentee ballots were not voted for the supervisor contest.
McNally was not at the Essex County Board of Elections for the recanvass, but Corey and attorney David Rudgers, who was representing the Essex County Republican Party Committee, went over the absentee ballots. Neither offered any challenges to the ballots.
Afterward, Corey said in a written statement that she wanted to thank the voters of Minerva for the privilege of serving as their supervisor the last four years.
“I congratulate Stephen McNally and his wife, Bonnie, on his election as supervisor. Steve promised the voters he would be a full-time supervisor, as I was.
“I know that he will enjoy his time as supervisor, as I have.”
Corey also thanked Board of Supervisors Chair Randy Douglas (D-Jay) and her colleagues on the board for their friendship and for sharing their local government expertise.
“Mr. McNally will, undoubtedly, benefit from his trips to Elizabethtown for the county board meetings, as I have,” Corey said.
McNally said he’d like to thank the community for the opportunity to serve the people of Minerva.
“I think that this is an exciting as well as a challenging time for the people who call the (Adirondack) park home, I am going work diligently to maintain service and to make living in the town of Minerva the best it can be.”
The Westport Town Council seat was the only race reversed by the absentee count, but it still wasn’t decided as of Wednesday.
Democrat Russell Paquette was down 3 votes on Election Night in the contest with Republican Timothy Sherman.
The absentee count gave Paquette 27 absentee votes and Sherman, 19, for totals of 276 for Paquette and 271 for Sherman, making Paquette the winner.
But three military ballots had not arrived yet, and the deadline isn’t until Tuesday, Nov. 18. Also, two ballots were challenged Wednesday by Sherman on possible postmark issues, and by law must be set aside unopened for three days while the candidate decides whether to file a suit.
If all five ballots were votes for Sherman, the race would be a tie.
NO WOMEN ON BOARD
The general election will see five new supervisors seated on the Essex County Board of Supervisors, and it will be an all-male body for the first time since 1979.
Essex Supervisor Sharon Boisen, an independent; Elizabethtown Supervisor Margaret Bartley, a Democrat; Ticonderoga Supervisor Debra Malaney, a Republican who ran as an independent after losing the primary; and Willsboro Supervisor Ed Hatch, a Democrat, were all defeated on Election Day.
New Essex County supervisors in January will be Republicans Noel Merrihew III in Elizabethtown, Shaun Gillilland in Willsboro and William Grinnell in Ticonderoga and independents Edward Gardner in Essex and McNally in Minerva, although McNally is expected to serve on the board as a Democrat, the party under which he is registered.
In the Essex supervisor race, Boisen was previously down 31 votes from Gardner, and she picked up 18 absentees, while he got 11, for a final tally of 156 for Gardner to 132 for Boisen.
Boisen said after the absentee count that she would work with Gardner to ensure a smooth and productive transition.
“I appreciate the support of the many people who believe in me and the involvement of all who participated in the election,” she said. “You can play the game to win or you can play with thoughtfulness and a clear conscience. I proudly chose the latter, and I would do it all over again.”
Gardner couldn’t be reached for comment Wednesday.
In the Elizabethtown absentee count for supervisor, Bartley picked up 26 votes, and Merrihew got 27, for an unofficial total of 275 for Merrihew to 221 for Bartley. She had been losing by 53 votes on election night.
In the Elizabethtown Town Council race, incumbent Democrat Evelyn Hatch had 244 with absentees, losing to Republicans William Wright Jr. with 291 and Richard Olcott with 279. Hatch had been 37 votes down from Olcott on election night. She got 27 absentee ballots, Olcott, 25, and Wright, 32.
Of the supervisors who faced challengers, only Democratic Westport Supervisor Daniel Connell was returned to office.
Supervisors in Lewis, Keene, Newcomb, Schroon, Crown Point, Jay, Moriah, North Elba, St. Armand and Wilmington were re-elected without opposition.
The supervisor posts were not up in Chesterfield and North Hudson.
The election results also change the political makeup of the Essex County Board of Supervisors from 10 Republicans, six Democrats and two independents to 12 Republicans, four Democrats and two independents.
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