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Judge clears path for new Glen Cove mayor, after 3 votes decide race

Councilman Timothy Tenke is on his way to

Councilman Timothy Tenke is on his way to being named mayor of Glen Cove, after a Nassau County Supreme Court judge rejected a request for a hand count of all ballots. Credit: James Escher

A Supreme Court judge Wednesday cleared the way for Glen Cove City Councilman Timothy Tenke to become mayor with a three-vote margin of victory.

State Supreme Court Justice Jeffrey S. Brown, who sits in Nassau, rejected a request by a Republican Party attorney for a hand count of all ballots and said the Nassau County Board of Elections could certify the results of the election, which Democrat Tenke won with 2,784 votes. Incumbent Reginald Spinello, an Independence Party member who also ran on the GOP line, received 2,781 votes.

“The bottom line is the voters’ voices were heard,” Tenke said in an interview at the Mineola courthouse where the ruling was handed down. “I’m very humbled by the results of this. I’m looking forward to continuing to serve the residents of Glen Cove, this time in the capacity as their mayor.”

Glen Cove, where Democrats have a voter-registration edge over Republicans of nearly 50 percent, will have a Democratic mayor for the first time since Spinello beat then-incumbent Democrat Ralph Suozzi in 2013, by 74 votes.

But Tenke will face a council in which the GOP retains its 5-2 majority. Tenke will be one of two Democrats on the council.

Spinello said Wednesday he’s “happy five members of my council — Republicans — can carry on my administration’s successful agenda in the future.”

Spinello said he hasn’t decided whether to seek another political office in the future.

“Right now I’m not even thinking about that,” he said late Wednesday afternoon. “Right now I will stay close to Glen Cove, because I’m not going anywhere. I’ll be at council meetings, and I’ll be asking questions, hard questions.”

Wednesday’s court hearing came a day after a count of 64 disputed absentee and affidavit ballots reversed the 13-vote lead Spinello previously had, giving Tenke a three-vote advantage. Republican and Democratic attorneys had challenged the ballots because of inconsistent signatures and other reasons. Spinello had a 21-vote lead on election night, Nov. 7.

Republican attorneys Tuesday convinced Brown to order a re-canvassing of all 310 absentee and affidavit ballots. But Alpa Sanghvi, an attorney for the elections board, told Brown on Wednesday that the re-canvassing did not change Tenke’s three-vote lead.

On Wednesday, Republican Party attorney Kenneth Gray unsuccessfully tried several times to get Brown to order further reviews of votes, first calling for a primarily machine-run re-canvassing of all of the nearly 5,600 ballots cast, and then for a hand count of all ballots.

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