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Saratoga Springs finance commissioner race remains undecided

Saratoga Springs finance commissioner race remains undecided

Milton challengers did well in write-in for minor party lines
Saratoga Springs finance commissioner race remains undecided
The exterior of Saratoga Springs City Hall is decorated for the holidays.
Photographer: Erica Miller / Gazette Photographer

SARATOGA COUNTY

In the wake of Tuesday's primaries, it will be at least a week before the close Democratic race for Saratoga Springs finance commissioner is settled.

With challenger Patricia Morrison leading incumbent finance commissioner Michele Madigan by 31 votes in final but unofficial primary returns, the Saratoga County Board of Elections will meet at 10 a.m. next Tuesday in Ballston Spa to open roughly 90 absentee ballots that could potentially control the outcome.

The Saratoga Springs primary result was the most unsettled among several primaries held around the county Tuesday.

Voting machine totals were 736 votes for Morrison, to 705 for Madigan, who is seeking her fifth two-year term as finance commissioner, Saratoga Springs' chief budget officer.

Morrison estimated she had knocked on 3,300 doors. "People are looking for better accountability, transparency and quite honestly better ethics," Morrison said in a statement on Wednesday. "Our city's future should not be determined by any special interest groups. I look forward to working and listening to all Saratogians. We need to protect the unique characteristics that make our city so special."

Madigan still has the Working Families and Independence ballot lines, and indicated last week she would continue campaigning on those lines into the November election if she lost the primary. She did not respond to a request for comment on Wednesday.

In the town of Milton, meanwhile, it appears that challengers who failed to win in a Republican primary for town supervisor and two Town Board seats may have nevertheless won the Conservative and Independence party lines through a write-in campaign.

Town supervisor candidate Benny Zlotnick and town board candidates Barbara Kerr and Ryan Isachsen successfully petitioned for an "opportunity to ballot," which makes it easier for a write-in to win a minor party line. Organized write-in campaigns also have a better chance on those lines because those parties have relatively few enrolled members, and few vote in primaries.

While the Board of Elections will review and announce the write-in results Thursday, Primary Night results show that write-ins got more votes than the candidates whose names appeared on the Conservative and Independence ballots -- those endorsed by party leaders.

For the Conservative ballot line, write-ins -- likely mostly for Zlotnick -- edged current town supervisor Scott Ostrander by a 20-10 margin. For the Independence line, a write-in outpolled Ostrander, 19-15.

Ostrander, a Republican incumbent seeking his second two-year term, handily beat Zlotnick in the much-larger Republican primary, where both men's names appeared on the ballot, and 1,245 votes were cast.

Assuming the write-ins were for him, Zlotnick said he was pleased. "If those write-in votes were for us, we've picked up a couple of ballot lines," said Zlotnick, a current member of the Town Board.

After taking a break for a week or two, Zlotnick said he, Kerr and Isachsen plan to start campaigning again, intending to win the general election in November. The three also have an independent ballot line in November, "Milton Moving Forward."

In the Conservative town board primary, write-in candidates had 42 votes, to 9 for Megan Soden and 7 for Antonio Bianchi, the Republican primary winners. In the Independence primary, write-ins had 36 votes, to 13 for Soden and 12 for Bianchi.

"I think it's unheard of if we have two write-ins win ballot lines," Kerr said. "We're on the ballot for November, and those two lines just add to it."

Reach Gazette reporter Stephen Williams at 518-395-3086, [email protected] or @gazettesteve on Twitter.

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