Warren County election officials Kim Ross (left) and Connie Service open up absentee and affidavit ballots Wednesday Nov. 13 to determine the winner of the race for Thurman town supervisor. On election night, Nov. 5, Present Supervisor Evelyn Wood had a 23-vote advantage over former supervisor John Haskell.
Town Supervisor Evelyn Wood’s comeback victory to win re-election was confirmed Wednesday as a count of votes on absentee and affidavit ballots barely narrowed Wood’s 23-vote advantage she held on Election Day’s machine-vote tally.
The final but unofficial vote count released Monday at about noon by the Warren County Board of elections was 277 votes for Evelyn Wood, and 255 for John Haskell.
Although she is a member of the Republican party, Wood had lost the G.O.P. ballot line by a greater than 2-1 margin to Haskell in the September primary election.
Although she had earned a reputation as a hard worker and a successful manager of local government, she sparked strong opposition among members and friends of the Thurman emergency squad.
At issue was Wood and the town board had voted not to spend tax dollars on supporting the squad because of its questionable finances and lack of advanced life support certification.
She also voted to stop municipal trash pickup — rare for a rural town — based on looming costs for a replacing an aging garbage truck and the eveer-increasing transportation costs. She and the board also opposed the principle of landowners — many who generated no trash — subsidizing other citizens’ trash pickup costs through their property taxes.
Wood had been praised regionally for her round-the-clock work in recovering from the devastating 2011 floods, straightened out long-standing problems with town finances. Also she gained praise and fame for launching a nationally renowned effort to connect Thurman citizens to the Internet via innovative “white space” wireless technology. She also brought a record amount of grant funding into town during her several years in office.
But a substantial number of people opposed her re-election because of the changes she made. Some residents were resentful, despite the fact that the changes kept their taxes in check.
But after being trounced in the Primary, citizens rallied to her support, and the result was a hard-fought campaign, resulting in a remarkable comeback victory.
Democrats were important to her victory as well as those voting on the lines reserved for Conservative and Independence parties.
Town Democratic party Chairman Andy Templeton said that he was pleased with the fact that 170 voters chose Wood on the Democratic ballot line, although there are only 158 registered Democrats in Thurman, compared with 409 or so for the Republicans.
“I’m thrilled,” he said, noting this election cycle might help resurrect the local Democratic party, which has been all but dormant in recent decades. “This is probably historic.”
The turbulence in politics this year apparently isn’t lost on Wood. After the paper ballots were counted, she said that her next objective would be to create unity.
“This has been a very polarizing election, and we’ll be working to bring the community back together again,” she said.
Wood added that she’s open to ideas that local residents have suggested this year, like restoring youth programs and encouraging the development of town-sponsored family activities.
“I’ve heard a lot of input from citizens about what programs they’d like to see in town — We’ll be evaluating the ideas to determine what’s feasible and we’ll be moving forward from there,” she said. “It’s a relief to get this election behind us and get back to work.”
Wednesday’s count also provided a final unofficial tally for two Thurman Town Board seats.
The paper-ballot count tallied the write-in votes for Kathy Templeton, (an Adirondack Journal correspondent) at 105, nowhere near enough to topple either of the two candidates on the ballot, Daniel E. Smith and Michael Eddy, who received 347 and 299 respectively in the adjusted Nov. 13 count.
Attending the session during which the paper ballots were tallied, Kathy Templeton said she was happy with the results. She had launched her write-in effort just several days before the election.
She said that she was primarily pleased that Thurman citizens were taking their civic duty seriously. She said that with 529 voters participating in the Nov. 5 election with only 600+ eligible in town, Thurman residents were making a point that was hard to ignore.
“I was really happy with the local turnout,” she said. “It showed New York State that Thurman votes!”