Glen Cove Democratic City Councilman Timothy Tenke squeaked by incumbent Mayor Reginald Spinello by three votes during a counting of disputed ballots Tuesday afternoon at the Nassau County Board of Elections.
But attorneys for the Republican Party convinced Supreme Court Justice Jeffrey S. Brown of Nassau County to order a re-canvassing of 310 absentee and affidavit ballots. Brown scheduled another hearing on the election for Wednesday.
In the latest count following the Nov. 7 election, Tenke leads Spinello, an Independence Party member who also ran on the GOP line, 2,784 to 2,781 votes.
Spinello said Tuesday night that “I don’t know what [Wednesday’s hearing] will bring,” but he attributed the near-tie to complacency among his voters. “A lot of my people thought I would win handily and they just didn’t go out and vote.”
Tenke declined to comment Tuesday until the results are official.
In the tight race for the last of six City Council seats, Democrat Marsha Silverman gained three votes over Republican Matthew Connolly and, according to the new count, beat him 2,426 votes to 2,403. That race is not being contested. Republicans, including three incumbents, won the other five seats.
On Tuesday, Brown sat in a drab, stuffy room near a loading dock at the Board of Elections in Mineola as board employees opened absentee ballots and Democratic Party attorney Keith Corbett and Republican Party attorney Stephen Martir examined each one-by-one.
Spinello led Tenke by 21 votes on election night and by 13 votes after a Nov. 17 count of absentee and affidavit ballots. Attorneys for the Democratic and Republican parties challenged 64 of those ballots because of ballot signatures that didn’t match those on record, and for other reasons.
After Tuesday’s count, Martir said a re-canvass is necessary.
“All we’re asking for is for the board to verify that their numbers are correct,” he said.
But Corbett objected to the re-canvass, saying the ballots already have been carefully counted with Democratic and Republican representatives observing.
“No matter which way you slice this, Tim Tenke won this election by three votes or one,” Corbett said, referring to two ballots that Brown ordered voided but that Martir said should count for Spinello.
The count on Tuesday saw Tenke’s lead grow to as many as 14 votes before Spinello began catching up.
Spinello ran this year on the GOP, Independence, Conservative and Reform lines. Tenke ran on the Democratic, Working Families and Women’s Equality lines.
This is the second time in three consecutive Glen Cove mayoral elections that the result came down to absentee and affidavit ballots. In 2013, Spinello, then a city councilman, beat incumbent Democrat Ralph Suozzi by 74 votes.