By Anne Hayden
ALBANY COUNTY — Nearly three months after Election Day, Democrat Cecilia Tkaczyk was sworn in as the new Senator of the 46th District.
Until the week before she was sworn in, her competitor, Republican George Amedore, had been leading the race for the seat by 37 votes. When the state’s top court last week decided not to hear appeals, the decision by the state’s Appellate Division, Third Judicial Department, stood and 99 more ballots were opened opened, making Tkaczyk the ultimate winner, by a margin of 18 votes.
“This is a very humbling experience, and I thank the voters and many volunteers who generously offered their time and support to help elect me,” said Tkaczyk, a sheep farmer from Duanesburg, in a statement on Jan. 23, shortly after she was sworn in.
“I want to thank the constituents I’ve had the honor to serve, as well as those who supported me throughout this campaign,” said Amedore, a home builder and former State Assemblyman, in a concession statement on Jan. 18. “I am proud of the honest and clean campaign that I and my team ran in this extended race.”
On Election Night in November, both Amedore and Tkaczyk had declared victory, and, after the race was determined too close to call, ballots were counted by Supreme Court Justice Guy Tomlinson.
Tomlinson decided that numerous affidavit and absentee ballots would not be canvassed by the respective boards of election in the five counties represented in the district — Albany, Schenectady, Montgomery, Greene, and Ulster — and declared Amedore the winner.
Tkaczyk appealed that decision and the case went to the Appellate Division, which decided that 99 of those ballots declared invalid by the Supreme Court should be opened, but Amedore appealed that, sending the case up to the state’s Court of Appeals.
The Court of Appeals denied the motion for leave to appeal, and sent the case back to the Appellate Division, which then declared Tkaczyk the winner.
Originally, the race could have determined which party held the majority in the Senate, but a coalition was formed between the Republicans and four independent Democrats, and new rules have been adopted that would require an unlikely supermajority to change.
The 46th Senate District was drawn up by a Republican-majority Senate, and Amedore had hoped to help keep that majority.
“No one believed our campaign had a chance in a district hand-carved by Republicans, and yet the power of good ideas and a strong campaign proved itself,” said Tkaczyk in her statement on Wednesday.
Her campaign was aided by about a half-million dollars in Political Action Committee funds.
“As I’ve done through my life, I will continue to advocate for the people’s needs and hope for a brighter future,” said Amedore as he conceded.
“I am honored to stand with Democratic Conference Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, and my fellow Democratic Senators, in pursuing the common sense, progressive agenda that New Yorkers demand,” said Tkaczyk after her swearing-in. “I look forward to hitting the ground running to serve my new constituents.”