KINGSTON – It came down to the wire Thursday afternoon, when officials at the Ulster County Board of Elections unsealed and counted the absentee ballots for Kingston’s razor-close Third Ward alderman’s race.
Walking in the door, challenger Andrew Champ-Doran was ahead by one vote. But one hour later, he was forced to concede when incumbent Brad Will emerged the victor, with a 17-vote spread.
“By a nose,” was how the reelected alderman described his win. The final numbers printed out by the BOE were Brad Will 384; Andrew Champ-Doran 367. Thursday’s absentee ballots went 36 Will to 22 Champ-Doran, with another 22 voting for neither candidate.
Roughly half the ward voted in the election compared to about 25 percent citywide. At issue were Ethics Code violations which Champ-Doran filed against Brad Will last year, which resulted in a guilty verdict and $1,000 fine on October 6. New charges have been filed this month for similar allegations, involving the same parties.
The race was noteworthy because both candidates were Democrats. Will defeated Champ Doran in the primary on September 10, who then went on to run a nearly successful challenge in the general election on November 3 as a third-party contender on the Independence line.
“It was a very close race; it came down to the last district,” Will said. “I congratulate my opponent on a hard-fought race, and I look forward to working with the new administration, and new colleagues on council. I think we’re going to have a very productive term, with a new mayor, and good, smart new aldermen on the council.”
Champ-Doran readily conceded after the results were read.
“I have to, he’s got more votes than I do,” he said matter-of-fact. “I’m very pleased with the showing from a minor party line, where we had a campaign of exactly six people, most of them from my family.”
Neither candidate knew who would win, both admitted.
“I didn’t know what to think; I had no idea,” Alderman Will acknowledged, adding he was surprised by the slim margin. Champ-Doran agreed, reiterating the proverb about not counting chickens before they’re hatched.
“We are never surprised by the closeness of any race. It seems to be an ongoing pattern here in Ulster County,” noted Republican Elections Commissioner Tom Turco. “There’s always half a dozen close races.”