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Cohoes Chooses Democratic Primary Winner For 5th Ward

It took a re-vote and absentee ballots, but the winner of the Democratic primary for the Fifth Ward seat on the Cohoes Common Council has been decided.

Credit WAMC photo by Dave Lucas
A stack of checked & verified absentee ballots from Cohoes await opening at the Albany County Board of Elections.

Republican Albany County Board of Elections Commissioner Rachel Bledi began opening absentee ballots at the BOE just after 9 Thursday morning.   "I mean it is generally routine, however, for many candidates it is exciting to see how absentee ballots could absolutely change the outcome of an election. So, there is a little bit in terms of anticipation of the outcome of election and seeing how it may alter the results, and oftentimes they do."

But not this time. Initially there were a few tense moments for Cohoes common council candidate Adam Biggs as the first ballots opened to determine a Democratic primary winner for the 5th ward seat.

Biggs' attorney Anita Thayer:   "We had problems the first time around in this primary and wanted to make sure this one is run by the book, and apparently it was, and we're pleased with the results and we're pleased with the process."

June’s primary ended in a tie. Before absentee ballot counting, Biggs and Kathleen Donovan were deadlocked at 286 votes. The ward's tally was tainted because 19 non-Democrats were somehow allowed to vote.

Biggs led Donovan by 28 votes after Tuesday’s special election, 229 to 201, with 75 absentee and affadavit votes still to be counted.

"I'm pleased with the outcome." ~ Cohoes Democratic Chairman and Albany County Legislator Gil Ethier

In the end, Biggs won the seat by 7 votes.   "It was another close election, so it shows the power of each individual voter to have an impact on the race, so my message to all voters as we approach November, is that your vote counts and to get out and vote."

The final tally: Biggs 256 - Donovan 249 - 48 absentee ballots were cast for Donovan, 27 voted for Biggs. Donovan was not at the BOE and could not be reached for comment.

Cohoes Democratic Chairman and Albany County Legislator Gil Ethier says he was very pleased with the turnout, considering the time of year.   "The fifth ward especially, where we had a tremendous turnout for a primary, and that's because we had two fine candidates and the vote reflects that. A close election like that between two candidates is a tough choice for the voters, but they made the right choice in their minds and I'm pleased with the outcome."

Biggs will face off in November against  Christopher Davis, chair of the Republican Committee in Cohoes, who will also appear on the Independence line.

Current Democratic 5th Ward Councilor Steve Napier is not seeking reelection after losing the decisive Democratic primary to Bill Keeler.  

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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