Dishaw wins tight race for Black River mayor

Dishaw

BLACK RIVER — After a recount, Francis J. Dishaw has won his bid for reelection as the village mayor.

Jefferson County elections officials confirmed Wednesday that, after a recount of the 278 ballots cast in the race, Mr. Dishaw finished ahead by three votes.

He ran as a write-in candidate, after losing the June Republican primary to David K. Leonard. The race ended close on election night, and absentee and affidavit ballots initially made it seem that both men ended the election with 131 votes each — with 16 ballots that went uncounted at the time. Mr. Leonard finished election night with eight more votes than Mr. Dishaw, and brought in eight absentee or affidavit votes, while Mr. Dishaw received 16.

Jude Seymour, Republican commissioner for the Jefferson County Board of Elections, on Monday said he wasn’t yet certain if the race was a tie after counting the votes. There was still an automatic recount to be done, and there were a number of write-ins for Mr. Dishaw of questionable validity.

On Wednesday, Mr. Seymour explained that the county’s bipartisan elections team counted each early ballot, Election Day ballot, absentee and affidavit ballot the day before and found that Mr. Dishaw had 135 votes to Mr. Leonard’s 132. There were 11 void or blank ballots.

Mr. Seymour explained that there were five write-in votes for “Dishaw,” no first name, and two of those were misspelled. The commissioners asked New York state’s Board of Elections for guidance, and were pointed to case law that showed precedent for counting last-name-only votes for the person clearly running for office under that name.

The board did not count the two votes that misspelled Mr. Dishaw’s name, but counted the three that clearly spelled his last name properly. The results of each race remain uncertified, until the Board of Elections finishes its review of every contest that requires further review, which is every race within a margin of 20 votes.

“We appreciate everyone’s patience as we continue to work deliberately to account for every vote and certify winners in plenty of time for them to take their seats,” Mr. Seymour said.

On Wednesday, Mr. Leonard said he had received news of his loss on his campaign Facebook page.

“I will still attend village board meetings and be a voice for the voters,” he wrote. “I congratulate Frank Dishaw on his election.”

Mr. Dishaw said he was ecstatic when he heard the news of his win.

“I was on cloud nine, thinking that all my work had paid off,” he said.

He said running a write-in campaign had proven to be very difficult, but he felt it was possible to overcome the difficulty with a strong will.

“I knew I could prevail if I stood my ground and kept going for it,” he said.

As he prepares for his next term in office, Mr. Dishaw said he is excited to get to work on the projects he’s already started on. There’s a number of water infrastructure projects that need attention, including to the reservoir and filtration system. He said there’s also a solar farm in the works along Route 3, squarely in the village’s borders, that he wants to see developed right.

“We’re trying to get them to leave a buffer zone along Route 3, so if we have businesses that want to come in, they can go there,” he said.

There’s also a walking trail in the works for the same area, and he said there are a lot of interests that have to be balanced, and he feels he has the right experience to keep them in line.

“If you have somebody new coming in, they don’t always know what you’ve worked on, what direction you’ve gone,” he said.

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Johnson Newspapers 7.1

I write about north country politics, Jefferson County and the northern shoreline towns of Lyme, Cape Vincent, Clayton and Alexandria Bay

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