Coin toss could settle tie in trustee race

Greg Klein | The Daily Star Lynn Jones votes in the village election Tuesday at 24 Chestnut St. in Cooperstown.

The Cooperstown Board of Trustees election may come down to a coin flip.

The Otsego County Board of Elections will audit the results of a three-way race for two board seats held by Joe Membrino and MacGuire Benton, each of whom is running for reelection. 

As of 11:15 p.m. Tuesday, Membrino received 287 votes, and Benton and newcomer Mary-Margaret Robbins were tied with 272 votes each. If the race is still tied after the audit, the seat will be awarded based on a coin flip or a revote, in accordance with an agreement between candidates.

In other races across The Daily Star’s four-county coverage area Tuesday, Sept. 15, a wave of write-in candidates drew a significant voter turnout to dozens of village elections, and in some cases, changed the tide of the popular vote.

Unadilla resident Jack Insinga, running as a write-in candidate, defeated incumbent village Mayor David Welch by a measure of 36 votes to 29.

Jay Kell received 19 votes as a write-in candidate, and Insinga’s wife Erin, shelter manager of the Delaware Valley Humane Society, also received one write-in vote.

Insinga, the proprietor of Jackie Boy Barbering out of Sweet Lu’s Barbershop in Sidney, said he launched his write-in campaign about a month ago and went door-to-door with Unadilla Town Supervisor George DeNys, hearing concerns from local residents.

“I feel honored to have earned the trust of my community,” he said. “My goal is to bring us all closer together, neighbor to neighbor, and bring back small-town life to a small town.”

Insinga said he aims for fiscal transparency in village affairs and to address a spate of rundown properties with absentee landlords throughout the village.

An uncontested race for mayor and trustee in the village of Afton drew nearly 150 voters Tuesday evening.

Incumbent Mayor Janice Nickerson, who was appointed to the position by the village board of trustees in December following the resignation of former Mayor Girard Matthews, won with 99 votes, and incumbent village trustee Robert Humphrey Jr. won with 97 votes.

“The Village of Afton Board of Trustees have a lot of plans going forward,” Nickerson said. “The village has been in turmoil for some time now, but in the eight months I’ve been in office, we’ve made a lot of progress. I’d say we’re headed in the right direction.”

A new water tower is expected to break ground at the beginning of next year, Nickerson said, and the village board has plans to revive Main Street in the coming months.

“I think going forward we’ll do well together,” she said. “We’re a very diverse group and we’ll get a lot done. It takes some time when you start from the bottom, but we’re getting there.”

Village business owners Melissa Matthews and Alexis VanBuren ran a months-long write-in campaign and earned 27 votes and 28 votes, respectively.

“The people of Afton have elected to allow those appointed to their positions to finish out the current term, a decision that was made by folks exercising their right to vote,” said Matthews,  owner of 6Zero7 Advertising. “That is nothing to be upset about.”

“From Day One, my offer to be written in as Afton Village Mayor was a way to give the people back control,” Matthews continued, listing among her goals increasing both the number of registered voters in the village and voter turnout.

“We increased from an approximated average of 100 voters to 140 voters, and for that, I am extremely proud of our write-in campaign,” Matthews said. “I do think Afton could do better, but what more can we do to get more people to show up at the polls?”

“Thank you to everyone for the support!” said VanBuren, owner of Baristacrats Coffee Bar. “I hope you continue to follow fundraisers and events hosted by #TeamReviveAfton. Our efforts will not stop here!”

Richard Doig and Steven Sehen won two seats in a four-way race for Walton village trustee, with 111 votes each out of the 206 total ballots cast.

In a Tuesday night interview with The Daily Star, Doig congratulated Sehen on his re-election and thanked the other candidates, whom he described as “good citizens of the community.”

Doig, who was appointed trustee about a year ago after another trustee stepped down, said he is pleased with the current makeup of the board.

“I think we represent all segments of the village very well,” he said.

Also on the ballot were Christine Gleason, who received 96 votes, and Bjorn Elierston, who received 34 votes. Ed Snow received 17 votes as a write-in candidate, Mary Phraner received two votes, and Walton Town Supervisor Joe Cetta received one vote.

Sarah Eames, staff writer, can be reached at seames@thedailystar.com or 607-441-7213. Follow her @DS_SarahE on Twitter.

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