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September 20, 2013

Richfield vote drama goes down to the wire

By Joe Mahoney Staff Writer
The Daily Star

---- — In the event of a tie vote in the Republican primary for Richfield town supervisor, the outcome would translate into a “failure to nominate” and the town’s GOP committee would have the the authority to choose the nominee, officials said Thursday.

Incumbent Supervisor Fran Enjem holds a one-vote lead over challenger Nicholas Palevsky, who had been endorsed by the town’s Republican Committee headed by Donald Urtz, also chairman of the town Planning Board.

Officials said the final vote, an affidavit ballot filed by a woman whose eligibility to vote was questioned on the day of the primary, will be examined this afternoon at the Otsego County Board of Elections office in Cooperstown. Officials had said earlier in the week that they expected the vote to be opened on Thursday, but they amended that scenario during the day.

The voter in question lives in the Oneonta area, her mother told The Daily Star. However, her mother confirmed that her daughter uses her Richfield Springs mailing address and stops there about once a week to pick up mail. The voter could not be reached for comment.

A spokesman for the state Board of Elections said a voter does not need to live full-time in a town to vote there. The voter only needs to have “a significant and continuing tie to that address,” said John Conklin, the spokesman.

The Richfield Republican primary outcome will determine who the next town supervisor will be because there is no Democratic candidate in the November general election. The contest could also have a significant impact on the debate over whether a wind farm consisting of six towering turbines should be constructed in the town.

Enjem has balked at signing a proposed community host agreement, saying the document fails to adequately protect the town’s long-term interests. Palevsky has said the project would benefit the region’s economy. However, in a letter to the editor he sent to The Daily Star last month, he indicated he is neutral on the project. Urtz has also promoted the wind farm.

The mother of the voter in question said she was uncertain as to whether her daughter voted for Enjem or Palevsky and did not know how her daughter stood on the controversial wind farm project.

Enjem said he would have probably filed an objection to the yet-to-be opened affidavit ballot had he been advised that he had to do so on Tuesday. A county Board of Elections official said he and other candidates were sent a letter in July advising them that any objections must be filed on Sept. 17. Sheila Ross, the county’s Republican elections commissioner, said it is now too late.