Thane wins second term as Amsterdam mayor

With absentee ballots counted Tuesday, incumbent Democrat Ann Thane has been — still unofficially —

With absentee ballots counted Tuesday, incumbent Democrat Ann Thane has been — still unofficially — declared the city’s next mayor, winning re-election in a close race with former Republican mayor Joseph Emanuele III.

Montgomery County Democratic Election Commissioner Jamie Duchessi said Tuesday night he could not provide vote totals, including absentee ballots counted earlier in the day. But he confirmed that ballot counts as of Tuesday night did confirm apparent winners in the city.

“We were fairly confident that the absentee votes would break this way, because generally absentee votes trend with the regular votes, and so I was feeling good this week,” Thane said Tuesday night. “But, you know, the final blessing often is a relief because the job requires 100 percent of my attention. So it will be nice to be able to focus again on just getting this job done.”

Emanuele said Tuesday night that the unofficial count put him 65 absentee votes behind Thane. He said although he’s disappointed with his loss, he’s more disappointed with the low voter turnout.

“I love this community,” Emanuele said. “I grew up here and was born and raised here all my life. And I’m concerned about the direction that the city is going to be headed in. You always hope that more than 50 percent of the residents will come out to vote in an election, especially a local one, but it’s their choice. So you have to respect the people who voted, and you have to respect their voices.”

Emanuele said he plans to stay involved in city and county issues in his current capacity as chairman of the Montgomery County Republican Committee but said he didn’t want to make any plans for the end of Thane’s second term.

Wierzbicki wins

The race for city controller is no longer up in the air, either, after absentee ballot counts sent Democrat Ronald G. Wierzbicki into the lead over Republican Matthew A. Agresta. Wierzbicki was behind by 27 votes as of last week, with his challenger Agresta taking 1,515 votes.

Although Agresta defeated incumbent Controller Heather Reynicke in the Republican primary, it was Wierzbicki, a retired state accountant and auditor who ran on the Democratic line and eventually took the seat.

The race for 5th ward supervisor has been decided, as well, with write-in challenger and former city assessor Michael Chiara ousting incumbent Republican Karl Baia. Absentee voters wrote in five names for the seat, but Chiara took the most, Duchessi said.

Chiara launched the write-in campaign against Baia, who was seeking a third two-year term, after city Democrats called for his resignation following an incident between him and his girlfriend, fellow Supervisor Barbara Wheeler.

Baia was charged with second-degree burglary, endangering the welfare of a child and criminal mischief by Amsterdam police on Aug. 26, accused of breaking into Wheeler’s residence and engaging in a physical fight with her in front of a child.

As of last week, Baia had 280 votes. Meanwhile, 286 write-in votes had been recorded but the candidates had not been identified, leaving Baia’s seat in limbo.

Prior to Tuesday, there had been 193 outstanding absentee ballots citywide. On Tuesday, Montgomery County Board of Elections commissioners began the absentee ballot count after the three city races had been too close to call on Election Day.

Thane was in attendance Tuesday at the board’s office in Fonda. Representatives for Emanuele were also there. Unofficial results on Election Day had Thane leading by only 53 votes, with 1,585 votes.

“It got to a certain point in the process where there were 73 paper ballots left and (Emanuele) would have had to run the board in order to take the seat, plus take some of the votes that had been challenged,” Thane said. “So I left before I knew what the final tally even was.”

Thane said she would celebrate her victory by attending Tuesday night’s city Common Council meeting. She thanked everyone who supported her campaign and turned out to vote.

“I’m grateful because it was a tough race,” she said. “It was a horse race, and every vote counted, and people should know how important their votes are. Additionally, we were outspent, so I think I was outmanned in many ways, and I think that we really rallied yet again, so I’m pleased.”

Absentee ballots for city races will be recounted today, but vote totals won’t be confirmed until votes for town races have also been counted, Duchessi said.

Military absentee ballots could still come in. Any that were postmarked Nov. 7 could still be counted, but Duchessi said the board usually would have received them by now.

Categories: Schenectady County

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