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Cohoes Special Election Coming Up August 27th

Voters in Cohoes, New York will go to the polls Tuesday to choose a new common council candidate.

A special election is being held after the June 25th primary between Kathy Donovan and Adam Biggs to represent Ward 5 on the Common Council ended in a tie when, after absentee ballot counting, the Democrats came out even at 286 votes. The election was also tainted when a poll worker allowed non-registered Democrats to vote in the closed primary.

Democratic 5th Ward Councilor Steve Napier is not seeking reelection after running for mayor, losing the decisive Democratic primary to Bill Keeler.   "The election is being handled directly by the staff of the Albany County Board of Elections rather than having one-day election inspectors as they typically are. So I think the people of Cohoes can be rest assured that this election will be fairly and properly administered."

Ward 6 Councilor Randy Koniowka expects voter turnout will be "very low."   "I mean, you're talking about a special election for the common council at the end of summer. What will happen in that, you know, I don't know. And then you have a Republican running there. The chair of the Republican Committee in Cohoes is running for that seat, so you'll have another election for that seat in November."

Republican Christopher Davis is also running on the Independence line.

Biggs says he's been actively campaigning door-to-door.   "My best guess is that turnout will be healthy. People seem interested in the race. They're eager for an opportunity to cast a ballot again in a race that's not marred by indescrepencies. So they're excited for the opportunity, there seems to be a lot of interest in the race, and so there's a good sign."

Donovan did not respond to a request for comment.

Napier adds some people may believe they have already voted, but need to understand Tuesday's election overrides the June primary.   "Their vote for Common Council if they live in the 5th Ward, which is the ward I currently represent, their vote has not been counted for Common Council. We need them to come back out and cast their vote again, and if they missed the last election, this is the time for you to come out. That vote ended in an exact dead tie, and so it will decided by a combination of whether or not the initial people who voted come out, and whether new people come out and have their voices heard."

Napier notes there is another vacancy on the Common Council: Democratic President Christopher Briggs was sworn in as the acting mayor of Cohoes Tuesday night, hours after first-term Democrat Shawn Morse pleaded guilty to wire fraud in federal court in Binghamton.   "We are in the midst of going through that with our corporation counsel, trying to determine what the status of that is."

Napier adds the lack of a sitting president has no effect on the council's ability to function.

Polls will be open from noon until 9 p.m. Tuesday.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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