PLATTSBURGH — Even though the Area 3 race will come down — once again — to absentee ballots, Republicans are in position to regain control of the Clinton County Legislature after Tuesday's elections.
Republican candidates Calvin Castine and Rick Potiker flipped Areas 1 and 5, respectively, and Robert Timmons held onto Area 7, securing at least five spots for their party going into 2020.
Francis Peryea (Area 2, Altona) and Mark Dame (Area 8, City and Town of Plattsburgh) are the other Republican incumbents.
Based on unofficial results, Area 3 constituents cast 31 more votes for Republican incumbent Mark Henry than Democrat Jerry Marking once Election Day and early voting numbers were counted, with the total tally coming to 800 to 769.
In that district, 103 absentee ballots were given out and 65 have been returned so far, according to Clinton County Board of Elections Republican Commissioner Greg Campbell.
Those must be postmarked by Nov. 4 and will be received until Nov. 12, and military ballots can be received until Nov. 18.
All absentee and military ballots will be counted Nov. 19.
"I'm going to wait for the absentee ballots to come in and then we'll know for sure," Henry said.
"People have told me that ... generally, the absentee ballots stay the same as the general election" percentage-wise.
Marking said the results are still up in the air.
"We've done this before, him and I," he said.
"It's going to come down to the absentee ballots again and I can hope that I pull it off, but it's too close to know."
It's a tough race, and both he and Henry are strong, Marking commented.
"It's a big area. I did everything I could. I worked hard."
When the two first ran against each other in March 2018, Henry was up by nine votes when the polls closed on Election Day, and absentee ballots opened later brought him to a lead of 19, the Press-Republican reported then.
Unofficial Area 5 tallies showed Potiker came out ahead of Democrat Willard Todd 593 votes to 421.
Potiker — the outgoing Schuyler Falls town supervisor — is happy the voters chose him to represent them and said he would work hard to keep the county moving in the right direction.
"I'm looking forward to just the new challenges that that position brings as far as being able to represent a larger number of people in Area 5."
He commented that the county is responsible for many important things, including health care, transportation and Clinton Community College.
Potiker wishes nothing but the best for Todd.
"There was not a single bad comment in either direction," he said.
"The race was strictly on our own merits and that's the way I think it should be."
Todd echoed that sentiment, saying both of them kept things civil.
"I wish him the best of luck," he said of Potiker.
Castine beat Democrat Joel Herzog 1,106 votes to 391 to claim Area 1, the seat currently occupied by Legislature Chair Harry McManus, a Democrat.
"I'm very pleased and I hope to live up to the confidence the people have shown in me," Castine said.
He plans to bring an open mind to the county legislature and the desire to hear all sides before making a decision.
"(Herzog) ran a good campaign and I'm sure he has a future in politics."
Herzog said he was disappointed, but congratulated Castine.
"He's been around forever, he's been involved in the community forever and that doesn't surprise me."
Herzog said he would have liked the opportunity to debate with Castine about issues in a setting where they could go back and forth.
"I'm 100 percent that would have been my strong suit and that would have distinguished us the most."
He also would have done more door-to-door campaigning to meet more people.
"From an honest assessment, I think that was (Castine's) biggest advantage is he was just so much more well-known than I was."
Herzog is thankful to all the people who helped with his campaign and said he could not rule out future political involvement.
Timmons defeated Democrat Carol Blakeslee 811 votes to 355, according to unofficial results.
"I've really enjoyed working with the board and look forward to another four years for sure," he said.
Should Republicans take back the legislature, Timmons does not anticipate much will change since the county runs so well and there is seldom any conflict.
"The most that it means is we get to decide who is in charge of committees, so maybe you'll have different legislators as committee chairs."
Timmons commented that it was a very civil race, and Blakeslee described it as fair.
"I really give him a lot of credit and wish him well," she said.
Looking back, Blakeslee probably would have done more door-to-door campaigning.
"But it's really hard running against an incumbent in an area that's more Republican than Democratic," she said.
Incumbent Area 9 Legislator Chris Rosenquest, a Democrat, ran unopposed for his position.
Unofficial results showed he had 398 votes on the Democratic party line and 80 from the Working Families line.
Eight write-in votes were also cast for his seat.
— Staff Writer McKenzie Delisle and Editor in Chief Joe LoTemplio contributed to this report.
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