Cohoes: Keeler Wins Mayoral Primary; Council Race Tied

Jul 2, 2019

The embattled incumbent mayor has conceded the race after absentee ballots from Cohoes were counted this morning at the Albany County Board of Elections.

Retired New York State Police Troop Commander Major Bill Keeler won a plurality of votes in last Tuesday's four-way Democratic mayoral primary. Unofficial results had Keeler up against first-term Mayor Shawn Morse, 972 votes to 869. Keeler retained his lead as he beat Morse 80 to 66 in the absentee ballot count.      "While I was confident going in with a hundred-point lead, there just weren't enough ballots out there to overcome that, and I'm very pleased that we actually gained after the absentee ballots were counted."

Keeler reiterated his call for Morse, who faces a September trial for federal campaign violations, to resign. November’s general election does not feature a Republican candidate, and councilor Steve Napier, who finished third, pledged to support Keeler.      "Everybody from the governor on down has asked the mayor to stand down, and that's been my message for months. I'm not gonna change that certainly as a result of the people's vote. Everybody seems in agreement that we're ready for change in Cohoes."

Morse's campaign manager Tom Scarff:     "The writing is on the wall right now and I think that we will probably just congratulate him and wish him well."

Soon after, Morse conceded to Keeler on Facebook, saying in part "I want to congratulate Keeler for Cohoes and wish him and our community great success. Our community is bigger than he and I. #COHOESPROUD, always!"

5th ward council candidate Kathleen Donovan
Credit WAMC photo by Dave Lucas

Meanwhile, the race to represent Ward 5 on the Common Council ended a tie. After absentee ballot counting, Kathleen Donovan and Adam Biggs came out even at 286 votes. The ward's tally is in question because 19 non-Democrats were apparently allowed to cast votes in the closed primary.  Biggs questioned how the voting error occurred.       "We have to do futher research to see how it happened, who's responsible and who authorized it."

Donovan says a new vote may be needed.     ”The board is looking at a new election for the fifth ward."

Democratic Board of Elections Commissioner Matt Clyne says the folks at the polling place made an honest mistake.      "They were under the mistaken impression that it was an open primary, and of course it isn't an open primary and that resulted in 19 votes were cast that shouldn't have been cast. Under those circumstances it is impossible to determine what the actual bottom line number is, and under those circumstances we feel that the only fair solution to this problem is to conduct another election."

5th ward council candidate Adam Biggs
Credit WAMC photo by Dave Lucas

Biggs is also questioning a single vote that was thrown out.    "The person who voted for me, but they also bubbled in the write-in bubble, but did not put in the name of a candidate, so we're gonna challenge that to see if that impacts the outcome and breaks the tie."

Clyne says should Biggs and Donovan agree to a new election it could be held next month.