Though Frank J. Alford’s victory may not be official for some time, he will most likely be Minden’s next town justice.
The Republican is currently leading by just six votes, ahead of Democrat Cindea Bradley, 521-515, with Ronald Bentz trailing with 226 votes, according to unofficial tallies by the Montgomery County Board of Elections. The race could have come to an end shortly after the Nov. 6 election, but there are still several contested ballots tied up in the 46th state Senate District race between Assemblyman George Amedore, R-Rotterdam, and Democrat Cecilia Tkaczyk.
Lawyers representing the Senate candidates met in Fonda recently before acting Supreme Court Judge Guy Tomlinson to contest roughly 30 Montgomery County absentee ballots, six of which are from Minden.
Tomlinson ruled Wednesday that the six Minden ballots should be opened, but Montgomery County Democratic Election Commissioner Jamie Duchessi said that action probably will not be taken until next week.
“We’re just waiting for the judge’s instructions,” he said.
Though there are six contested ballots, which could technically fill the gap between the two town justice hopefuls, whatever the outcome, Duchessi said Alford will win.
He explained that lawyers have essentially two opportunities to object to an absentee ballot. They can object to the signature on the outside of the envelope on the grounds that it does not match the voter registration. If there are no objections to the signature, the ballot is opened and the markings examined. If they look inconsistent, that is also grounds for also contention.
Of the six contested Minden ballots, two have already been opened. Duchessi said one vote is for Alford and the other for Bradley. So even if all the ballots are accepted and the remaining four turn out to be for Bradley, there is still no way she could win.
Bradley seemed surprised Wednesday that the race was still being talked about.
“I was there when they counted the votes,” she said, “I lost by five or six. The problem was there were a few ballots the lawyers objected to, so it might be closer than that.”
Alford could not be reached Wednesday.
Despite Duchessi’s reasoning, the town justice race will likely be tied up for quite some time in the legal battle over the 46th Senate District race. When things are straightened out, Alford will likely preside over small claims, evictions, vehicle, traffic and civil matters and non-felony criminal offenses.
Such tight races are not uncommon in the area.
“We had a similar race last year with the town supervisors,” Duchessi said, recounting how Dominick Stagliano’s beat out Wayne Handy for St. Johnsville town supervisor by just three ballots.
He believes the narrow margins are indicative of the even split between the two parties in rural New York as well as across much of the country.