After two years of appeals, all 39 seats of the Albany County Legislature are filled, as the election is finally completed.
The last seat to be filled in two debated contests was the 29th district seat, representing Guilderland, in the Albany County Legislature. Republican candidate Lee Carman won the election after a federal judge ordered the two remaining contested ballots be opened in the election.
Both votes were for Lee Carman, said Democratic Elections Commissioner Jim Clancy.
The final two votes broke the tie in the vote, and Carman won the election 510-508 over Democratic Candidate Gene Messercola, said Clancy. Messercola had held the county seat since June 2000.
Carman said that he is glad that all votes in the election, both Democrat and Republican, were tallied.
`It feels the best because the goal was to open all the ballots,` said Carman. `Fortunately, the voters voted for me.`
Carman was sworn in on June 16 by County Clerk Thomas Clingan.
Carman said that he has been following the important issues in the media and is adequately prepared to begin contributing in the legislature. Carman will run for re-election in November of 2007.
The two remaining ballots were ordered open by U.S. District Court Judge Lawrence Kahn last week. The ballots were opened on Thursday, and Carman was declared the winner. The two ballots were the final ballots counted amongst 40 contested ballots from Colonie and Guilderland in an April 2004 election that were disputed in state and federal courts.
In 2004, Carman joined Colonie’s 26th district candidate William Hoblock and voters in a suit against the Albany County Board of Elections, claiming that voters’ rights had been violated.
The district seats were to be filled per the outcome of an April 27, 2004 special election. The special election came about after a federal court order called for new district lines to be drawn, putting a stop to the November 2003 election.
Absentee ballot applications had been sent out for the November election, while no new applications had been sent out to district voters for the April elections. Once election officials began tallying the April results, Hoblock and Carman challenged the absentee ballots.
They contended that failing to send out absentee ballots applications for the April election was voter disenfranchisement. They took their case to state Supreme Court. A court order put a stop to the vote tallying.
In October 2004, the state Court of Appeals, citing state election law, called for the ballots to be tossed out and election winners named. Hoblock’s attorney, Paul DerOhannesian, sought a federal opinion in U.S. District Court. In a May 24 ruling, U.S. District Judge Lawrence E. Kahn ordered the Albany County Board of Elections to count the absentee ballots and certify the winners.“