QUEENSBURY - In a painstaking process Tuesday, each of 80 absentee ballots cast in the Town of Lake George was held up and shown to a panel of political observers for their inspection.
For two hours, representatives of the two candidates for Lake George Town Supervisor - Republican Frank McCoy and Democrat Dennis Dickinson - scrutinized one ballot after another.
At about 2:15 p.m., there was an apparent winner. Frank McCoy, who had led 592- 584 on election day, picked up an additional 14-vote margin with the absentee ballots. The results are unofficial, and have yet to be certified.
McCoy said he was relieved with the pending victory.
"It was nerve wracking," he said. "I took a deep sigh of relief as the last few ballots were counted."
Within minutes, McCoy called his wife Janet with the news.
"Congratulations, you earned it," she said.
McCoy's tenure in town politics has spanned 19 years. It includes six years on the town Zoning Board of Appeals, five years on the planning board, followed by eight years on the town board.
Dennis Dickinson gave McCoy a formidable challenge, right down to the last vote. It's been almost three decades since the town was led by a Democrat - when Dickinson himself held the post for eight years, until 1982.
Dickinson, a professional engineer, had run on his impressive credentials and on new ideas that would help solve problems and conflict between local municipalities. Tuesday afternoon, Dickinson could not be reached for comment.
McCoy said Dickinson had nearly won - in a town with an overwhelming Republican margin - because of the Democrat's expertise and public service.
"Dennis is a local guy who's lived in Lake George for 60 years, and he's served the town and done a lot of work for local people," McCoy said. "He had a lot of credibility with the voters."
But the Democrats have done well in the region recently, with the economic collapse occurring nationally under a G.O.P. president, and Scott Murphy, a Democrat, winning the area Congressional seat this last Spring.
"It's been a throw-out-the-incumbent year, and there's been a backlash against any one who's been in office," McCoy said, explaining his slim margin.
What resonated with the local voters this year? McCoy said it was the proposed town-village consolidation, without a doubt.
"People in the town are 100 percent against taking on the village and its debts," he said Tuesday after his win.
McCoy said he would be taking the town in a slightly different direction, after the retirement in December of Lou Tessier, who's led the town for 26 years.
"I'll be aggressively exploring grants for water and sewer upgrades in town," he said. "Also. we have to use our bed tax money more effectively."
Observers said the vote turnout was extremely high for a year without a U.S. presidential election.
Tuesday, McCoy said he wanted them to get a message.
"I want to thank all the voters whether they voted for me or not," he said.