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Rosenquest takes mayoral primary in Plattsburgh

PLATTSBURGH — Unofficial tallies show Chris Rosenquest victorious over incumbent Colin Read in the City of Plattsburgh’s mayoral Democratic Party primary election.

The Area 9 Clinton County legislator watched commissioners count absentee ballots Wednesday morning, live-tweeting the numbers throughout.

“It’s satisfying to see the results; we pulled in over 50 percent of the vote total in the primary,” Rosenquest said afterwards. “I think this is just an indication of what’s to come in November.

“I think Democratic voters in the city have been clear.”

Unofficial count

The Clinton County Board of Elections announced 1,041 valid absentee ballots, with 506 in support of Rosenquest, 397 for Read, the city’s current mayor, 126 for downtown businessman Tenzin Dorjee and a few write-ins.

Adding the numbers to the previously announced in-person votes, gathered at the polls during the early voting period and on Primary Election Day, Rosenquest took the race by more than 270 votes.

His total tally came in at 848 votes out of 1,665. Mayor Read received 574 votes and 231 went to Dorjee.

Republican Commissioner Greg Campbell said the votes would be certified, becoming official results, by next week.

“We go back and just double check the results that we have here and double check the takes that we have from the machine,” Campbell said Wednesday. “We have to have that information in before we can actually certify it.”

At this point, based on the percentages, the commissioner said the only avenue for a recount would be via the court system.

High absentee numbers

All in all, Democratic Commissioner Mary Dyer had cited a poor voter turnout this primary election.

Of the more than 3,000 absentee ballots mailed to City of Plattsburgh Dems for this three-man race, about one-third had been returned and postmarked on or before Tuesday, June 23, or Primary Election Day.

Still, the commissioner had said it was a high number of absentees due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Clinton County Board of Elections had tallied them in under two hours.

“Clear-cut progress”

Having watched the process live, Rosenquest said it was interesting and one the public should tune into sometime.

“You don’t often get to experience the behind-the-scenes of voting and what it means to have eight or nine people in a room, making sure that every ballot is counted, making sure that everything is meticulously done, so that people can really look and rely on and trust this process,” he said.

“It certainly makes me proud to both be a voter in the community and a candidate.”

Despite some reports citing citizen uncertainty with absentee voting, Rosenquest thought the opposition was the “outlier” take on it, adding that it might come from a lack of understanding.

“I think the majority of people understand that this is a clear-cut process for voting.”

Coming up next

In November, Rosenquest will be the Democrat on the ballot, but also the Working Families Party pick. The legislator earned that endorsement earlier this year.

He will race against Republican Party candidate Scott Beebie.

Mayor Read thanked all involved candidates for their willingness to serve the City of Plattsburgh, and hoped that the remaining two would “conduct clean campaigns that focus on the concrete things each of them will do to rebuild our city and lower taxes in this incredibly challenging time.

“I wish them the best of luck.”

Dorjee could not be reached for comment.

Outside of cuts

When asked his strengths compared to Beebie, a former Plattsburgh City Police Department lieutenant, Rosenquest pointed to his work at the county as its Finance Committee chair, his past support of economic growth and his community relationships.

“I think we both represent really strong name recognition in our community,” he said, “But one thing that I’m bringing to the table is an extensive network of community contacts at all levels of government to ensure that what we need in the City of Plattsburgh can be fulfilled.”

Rosenquest said it was those relationships that could possibly help the city escape some legal challenges it now faced, like one from the Plattsburgh Citizens Coalition over the redevelopment of the Durkee Street parking lot and another involving the Town of Plattsburgh over the dated Falcon Seaboard dilemma.

“We certainly would be more open and encouraged, sitting at the table to figure out how we can get out of them. I think that’s key,” Rosenquest said, adding that he knew the parties involved in the disputes. “They’re people that I can call and say, ‘Hey, let’s sit down and figure this out.'”

As far as the City of Plattsburgh’s fiscal standing, the Democrat said he’d be creative, looking outside of the box to find a solution.

“We’ve heard from mayors before that the City of Plattsburgh is in financial distress,” he said, “but we need some creativity on how to get out of that — outside of just cutting, cutting, cutting.”

“Thank you so much”

Following the results, Rosenquest issued a ‘thank you’ to anyone who voted either in-person or via absentee ballot during the primary, adding that he hoped to up voter turnout come the November general election.

“It’s a real privilege to be acknowledged this way,” he said. “This is not a Chris Rosenquest campaign, this is really a campaign for our community. I think people realize that.

“I really appreciate everyone that has chosen to come out to vote. It’s just — thank you. Thank you so much for coming out and supporting the campaign.”

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