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ELECTION 2021

Merlino behind by 15 votes in reelection bid in Lake Luzerne; race to be decided by absentees

Gene Merlino and Dan Waterhouse

Gene Merlino and Dan Waterhouse

LAKE LUZERNE — Lake Luzerne Supervisor Gene Merlino is 15 votes behind board member Dan Waterhouse after the write-in votes were counted on Thursday.

However, the winner of the supervisor’s race will not be determined until absentee ballots are counted, which will not happen for a week and a half.

Merlino, who is seeking a ninth two-year term, has received 415 votes for supervisor compared with 430 for Waterhouse, according to unofficial returns.

There were 60 early voters who chose a write-in candidate for supervisor and 364 people on Election Day cast write-in ballots, for a total of 424. However, nine ballots were not cast for Merlino.

The deadline for absentee ballots to be returned is Tuesday and for military ballots, it is 13 days after the election. Democratic Warren County Board of Elections Commissioner Beth McLaughlin said election officials would begin counting the absentees on Nov. 15.

A total of 79 absentee ballots were sent out and 58 received as of Friday, according to McLaughlin.

Merlino was hopeful about his chances. He gave credit to his supporters.

“It was tough to do a write-in and compete with a machine,” he said.

“It was a good run and we’ll see what happens,” he added.

However, the slate of Town Board candidates he ran with were not successful in their write-in bids to win two four-year seats. Roger Nelligan received 317 votes and Rayl Zubal got 339.

The two Republican candidates, incumbent David O’Neal and newcomer James Niles — received 451 and 448 votes, respectively, on the machines.

Republican incumbent Mike Fazio received 390 votes to win a two-year seat. Write-in candidate Pamela Petteys, who Merlino appointed deputy supervisor after he fired Waterhouse, got 330 votes. Margaret Paoloni, who was running on the People First ballot line, finished with 119.

If Merlino ultimately prevails, he will be facing three board members who voted for a resolution of no confidence in his leadership, accusing him of making purchases and authorizing overtime without board approval.

When asked about how he would work with the board, Merlino said he believed that they could move forward together.

“I think things will change a little bit. We’ll all to compromise for the good of the town. You have to,” he said.

Waterhouse also did not want to speculate on the outcome. He is pleased with the turnout, over 900 voters, which he believes was a record.

“That’s great thing for democracy to see that. It’s close. We’ll have to wait until the 15th,” he said.

He said he is pleased that the three other incumbent board members were reelected. They have accumulated a great deal of knowledge about the law and town operations.

“I think the town’s in a good shape either way, with Gene there or myself. I think we’ll start to see a lot more transparency, whoever gets in,” Waterhouse said.

Other outstanding races

Other races that will not be decided until absentee ballots are counted are for the Glens Falls Ward 4 county supervisor seat. Incumbent Republican Dan Bruno leads Democratic challenger John Reilly by 12 votes — 137 to 125. However, there are 34 absentee ballots that were requested for that race.

The race for Queensbury Town Board Ward 2 is also undecided. Incumbent Town Board member Harrison Freer, the Democratic candidate, leads Republican challenger David Deeb 665-646 in a rematch of the 2019 election. However, there are 213 absentee ballots that were sent out in that race.

In Greenwich, incumbent Supervisor Don Ward, a Republican, has 696 votes compared with 691 for his Democratic challenger, James Nolan. There are about 88 absentee ballots.

Michael Goot covers politics, crime and courts, Warren County, education and business. Reach him at 518-742-3320 or mgoot@poststar.com.

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