NORTH CREEK - In what appears to be the conclusion of a dramatic local election story, Dan Hitchcock has been certified as the ultimate winner of the Nov. 4 General Election for Johnsburg Highway Superintendent.
Despite a monumental write-in campaign waged by Hitchcock, Fred Comstock of Johnsburg was originally certified the winner due to a large portion of his opponent's ballots being rejected.
The contested ballots were rejected due to voters recording several different variations of Hitchcock's name.
Following the election, Hitchcock filed suit in New York State Supreme Court against his opponents and the Warren County Board of Elections.
The Court ruled in favor of Hitchcock last week, giving him the full benefit of 415 votes to Comstock's 380.
Previously, Comstock had publicly voiced his intention to not seek the position and the Johnsburg Town Board moved to appoint Hitchcock to the post immediately.
"The reason I started the lawsuit is because Fred Comstock could have legally taken over on the first of the year," Hitchcock said. "I'm glad I did it. It was quite an experience to go through."
While he wanted to protect the position that he fought so hard to attain earlier this year, Hitchcock also looked forward to "making things right."
"I also did it because I wanted to just plain win," he said. "I was the only Dan Hitchcock in the race and the votes that weren't counted originally were rightfully mine."
Town Supervisor, Sterling Goodspeed, is glad to see the matter resolved and looks forward to the coming year.
"I think Dan and I have had a good working relationship over the last few weeks and we've spent a tremendous amount of time working on the budget and the challenges facing the Highway Department in particular," Goodspeed said. "I think it's going to be a positive relationship and I certainly congratulate him."
Despite a busy start to his career as Superintendent, Hitchcock has already made efforts to control costs and correct equipment break-down issues within the Highway Department.
"I've cut a lot in cost already - especially when it comes to purchasing repair parts for equipment," Hitchcock said.
The Department is now seeking multiple bids on necessary items before purchasing rather than relying on historic sources.
"There's a lot of savings to be had out there if you take the time to check pricing," he added.
Coming into the position late in the year and just prior to three major snowstorms, he's had to work through numerous budget issues with the Supervisor's office. Despite their best efforts, the Town still lacks some of the parts necessary to maintain the roads.
"I'm ashamed of the shape that some of these roads are in but I still don't have things like cutting edges for our grader," Hitchcock noted.
The cutting edges were ordered over five weeks ago and still have not arrived. They are necessary to smooth some of the rougher back roads in the region.
He is also worried that modest budget surpluses identified by the Supervisor's office will have to be put against the considerable overtime the department has racked up in the last few weeks.
Regardless of the immediate challenges, Hitchcock is up for the task.
"I'm trying to run the Department like it's a business," he concluded. "Some of the old traditions are hard to break but we are making progress. The men down there are great to work with. They're all dedicated guys."
Hitchcock will face reelection in November of 2009 for a full term as Johnsburg Highway Superintendent.