Delaware Board race: And the tie goes to…
Story by Dan Hust
MONTICELLO November 15, 2013 Sullivan County Board of Elections commissioners may have a tie on their hands.
County personnel began counting general election absentee ballots this past Tuesday, beginning with the Town of Bethel and proceeding alphabetically.
While preliminary results indicate most winning candidates stayed victorious, a town board race in Delaware may have to be re-contested next year.
Elections Commissioner Rodney Gaebel confirmed that incumbent Delaware Councilman John Gain currently has exactly the same amount of overall votes as his challenger, John Murphy: 453.
Gain was leading Murphy by 23 votes in the general election last week, but when absentees were counted, Murphy handily eliminated that gap, garnering 49 absentee ballots as compared to Gain’s 26.
Gaebel said the Board of Elections is awaiting possibly one or two more military absentee ballots to arrive by Tuesday, Nov. 19, but if the tie remains when the official recount is completed, it’ll be up to the town board to take action.
Gaebel explained that, in the event of a tie, the state will declare a “failure to elect” and will empower the Delaware Town Board to appoint an interim councilmember.
That person likely to be Gain, considering the current makeup of the board will serve from January to December of 2014.
An election will then be held next November for voters to select who will sit in that seat for the remaining three years of its term.
Two seats are open on the Delaware Town Board, but the only other candidate, incumbent Al Steppich, maintains a firm lead, his 25 absentee votes bringing him to a total of 464.
The only other contested race in the Town of Delaware was for supervisor, and it appears incumbent Supervisor Ed Sykes again beat challenger Steve Lundgren, 439-401.
Due to the Board of Elections’ ongoing absentee counting efforts this week, results on other races were not available at press time yesterday. The board expects the final tallies to be completed today. See next Tuesday’s Democrat for updates.
Was it the ballot that could have made the difference?…
Interestingly, one Town of Delaware absentee ballot had to be withdrawn.
Shirley Stabbert of Callicoon filed her absentee ballot in mid-October but took ill during the end of the month and passed away on November 3, two days before Election Day.
According to state law, her absentee ballot had to be cancelled.
“I guess that means it will be the first time she hasn’t voted in the past 66 years,” said her son, Fred Stabbert III. “She knew all the candidates very well… going to church with John Gain, being Al Steppich’s second grade teacher and a friend to John Murphy and the Murphy family.
“As it goes to show, one vote can truly make a difference,” he added.