Democrat Paula Mahan has won her third consecutive term as town supervisor, after Republican challenger Denise Sheehan announced Friday that she is conceding the race.
Mahan claimed victory on Election Night, leading by 296 votes even with 954 absentee ballots uncounted. More than a week later, she said she is relieved her victory is official.
“I was very comfortable with the numbers at that point,” Mahan said Friday. “But I understand it’s very important to count every absentee ballot and I’m really happy that it’s come to closure and we can move forward.”
She will now serve a third two-year term at a salary of $118,229.
In a statement released Friday afternoon, Sheehan said she called Mahan earlier in the day to congratulate her on winning “a tightly contested and spirited race.”
“With a vote margin this close, I felt it was important that the absentee ballot process was carried out to ensure every vote counted, and I appreciate everyone’s patience during that process,” Sheehan said in the statement.
Albany County Board of Elections officials began counting the nearly 1,000 absentee ballots for the town supervisor race Wednesday and predicted that a final tally would be available late Friday or Monday. Representatives for Mahan and Sheehan remained at the board offices once counting began to track each candidate’s votes. Mahan said her votes appeared “really good all through.”
Throughout the campaign, both candidates said they would bring financial stability to Colonie. But Mahan said she would maintain that stability after she helped reduce the town’s nearly $20 million deficit since taking office in 2007, when she wrested political control of the town away from the Republicans who had long been in power.
Sheehan, on the other hand, touted a platform to “get Colonie back on track” and pledged to undo what she said were poor financial decisions made over the past few years that negatively affected the town deficit.
Mahan said Friday that Sheehan’s campaign purposely misled people on various town issues and that misinformation was rampant.
“People were hearing it over and over and over again,” she said. “And I asked my people to stick with the facts, run an honest campaign and let the people decide. And you know, from day one we’ve given people the facts, and I believe in letting people make their own decisions. So I believe that people did that.”
Sheehan said she ran for the position out of concern for the overall direction of the town. In her Friday statement, she said that although she’s disappointed with the outcome of the race, she is proud of the campaign she ran, as well as the support and issues brought to light.
“It was an honor and privilege for me to be a candidate for supervisor, and this campaign was a great experience for me,” said Sheehan.
“I’m grateful for the opportunity I had to connect with the community and meet thousands of residents who shared my concerns and supported my positions on the significant issues facing the town.”
Some of those issues included concern over the town’s landfill use, particularly a July lease agreement with California-based Waste Connections. Sheehan said the 25-year deal with the private landfill operator was approved without public input.
Mahan was leading Sheehan by 296 votes when polls closed Nov. 8. While Board of Elections officials still hadn’t finished absentee ballot counts for the town of Colonie by Friday evening, they said it was apparent that Mahan would hold onto her lead. They couldn’t provide any unofficial tally, though.
“I’m hopeful that this race has provided residents of the town with a renewed sense of the importance of their voices,” Sheehan said in her statement, “and that they will actively participate in town government to ensure their concerns are being addressed.”
Mahan said approximately 36 out of 61 districts had been counted when Sheehan declared her concession. She said her victory speaks to satisfaction among residents with the way she has handled town issues and corrected finances from when Republicans controlled town government.
“I think the voters are satisfied with what they’ve seen,” Mahan said. “Certainly from day one they knew we were working on finances, that was our top priority. And having achieved the elimination of the deficit this year was really an incredible accomplishment, and I really do think that a lot of people saw the good things going on and the town moving in a positive direction and we made a great deal of progress.”
To maintain fiscal stability, Mahan said she would reduce the cost of town government and promote economic development within town to increase the tax base. She also said she would focus on improving the town’s aging infrastructure by following through on the town’s five-year master plan that focuses on paving and drainage issues.
Mahan said she wants to now focus on preventing the town from accruing a deficit again and hopes to bring it to the point where it can build a surplus.
“I want to continue down that road,” she said, “and just do the things like that that will put the town on solid ground.”
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