Bill Wilkinson, the sitting Republican supervisor of East Hampton Town, has defeated Democratic challenger Zach Cohen by a handful of votes, according to unofficial results from the Suffolk County Board of Elections.
Coming into a Tuesday meeting , according to East Hampton Democrats, Wilkinson retained an unofficial 12-vote lead at the end of the day on Tuesday. Eleven absentee ballots remain unopened and yet to be counted, not enough to change the outcome of the race.
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Lawyers representing each candidate met at the BOE Tuesday afternoon around 2 p.m., as well as Republican Chairwoman Trace Duryea and Chris Kelley, Cohen's campaign manager.
Each remaining absentee ballot was read aloud individually, and after roughly 57 ballots were read, the lawyers got up from the table and shook hands, seemingly ending the process with Wilkinson as the unofficial victor.
But 20 minutes later, John Leo, the lawyer representing the East Hampton Democratic Party, emerged with Kelley announcing that 13 ballots remained uncounted - enough to earn a Cohen victory. Messina returned to witness two more ballots opened. One was cast in favor of Wilkinson, the other in favor of Cohen.
Despite the announcement, Democratic Chairwoman Jeanne Frankl said Cohen was not prepared to concede. Messages left with Cohen, Wilkinson and Kelley were not immediately returned.
Republican Commissioner at the BOE, Wayne Rogers, said he and fellow commissioner, Democrat Anita Katz, would look through the remaining 11 ballots on Wednesday and will vote on whether or not to count all 11. Absentees appearing to have arrived at the BOE opened, for example, may be discarded, with a unanimous two-person vote.
Wilkinson held on to his slim election night lead to earn a second term.
"It's a great relief to have this done," Duryea said before leaving BOE headquarters. "I hope everyone has a nice Thanksgiving. We have a lot to be thankful for."