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What you need to know for 12/16/2017

Gloversville mayor to leave GOP after victory

Gloversville mayor to leave GOP after victory

Opponent Rowback won't dispute official election results
Gloversville mayor to leave GOP after victory
Gloversville Mayor Dayton King.
Photographer: PETER R. BARBER

Dayton King is done with party politics, and he's also finished with the Republican Party.

"I can tell you that I will be changing my party affiliation," said King, who became the first Gloversville mayor in nearly 70 years to be re-elected twice. His victory was announced Monday, after Fulton County election officials determined unofficial results from the Nov. 7 election were wrong, and that King had actually won re-election over fellow Republican William Rowback Jr.

"I will be stepping out of the Republican Party. They have done nothing for me. I've been elected mayor three times in this city, and they've done absolutely nothing to help me."

King lost a narrow Republican primary to Rowback in September and thought he had come out on the losing side again on Nov. 7, with Rowback getting 1,800 votes to King's 1,490.

Those results, however, were unofficial. 

After a recount, Lee Hollenbeck, commissioner of the county Board of Elections, announced that King had actually won the election, after errors were found in the counting of ballots from the Third and Fifth wards.

That made King a happy man Monday, but he wasn't happy with his party. After losing the primary to Rowback, he ran for mayor on the Conservative line.

"At this point, I don't know what I'm going to do," said King, referring to his leaving the Republicans. "I've won as a Republican, an independent and a Conservative, so maybe I'll just consider myself to be a candidate for all the people. Or I'll just run on a blank line. I don't care. Our Republican committee has always supported their buddy, whoever that was, so I am done with them."

As for joining the Democratic Party, King said that would be a difficult fit for him.

"I am pro-life, and I don't like taking guns away from people like the Safe Act does," King said. "A good guy with a gun helps you with a bad guy and a gun. So there are things at the federal level that might make it hard for me to be a Democrat. Maybe I should have kissed the Republican Party ring more often. But I beat them three times already, so I don't need them."

King said he was particularly disappointed in how many of the top upstate Republicans, such as U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik, State Sen. Jim Tedisco and state Assemblyman Marc Butler, of Herkimer, all came out in support of Rowback during the week before the Nov. 7 election.

"The congresswoman, who has never met Bill Rowback, comes out and volunteers her time to support him," King said. "That is crazy. And Jim Tedisco and Marc Butler, on his way out, come out to support her, kissing the Republican ring one more time. I'm just going to move forward and go back to work helping this city."

On his Facebook page Monday night, Rowback officially conceded the election.

"After making numerous inquiries on the legality of disputing the election, I have decided not to move forward," Rowback said in his post. "I would like to formally concede this race, and I congratulate Dayton on winning the election for Gloversville mayor. We should all be supportive, positive and make our city a better place in any way we can. Thank you all so much four your support."

On Tuesday afternoon, Rowback confirmed that he was not disputing the election.

"I guess I believe that they got it right," he said. "If there was anything done wrong, we wouldn't be able to prove it. But I'm still going to keep working for this community. I'm proud to be a resident of this city, and I will continue to do anything I can to support the city of Gloversville."

Hollenbeck, the elections commissioner, said results are always unofficial until his staff goes over the numbers twice.

"It was just a human error — a reporting error when they called in that night," Hollenbeck said. "Up here in Fulton County, everybody wants to get the results as soon as possible, so by 9:30, we have the election inspectors at the polling sites calling in the tallies off the sheet, and that's what happen. Someone just counted two wards twice. But we do have a procedure we go through in this office, and that's how we realized something was wrong."

Hollenbeck said there was a similar mistake a few years ago that incorrectly gave a seat on the City Council to the wrong person.

"It was pretty much the same thing: a human error," he said. "But this kind of thing doesn't happen all the time. You can go back six years, and it's only happened twice."

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