Bobby Coleman (File photo)
ALBANY — The Albany City Commission is in for more change.
Challenger Bobby Coleman scored an unofficial 226-172 victory Tuesday evening in the runoff election for the commission’s Ward II seat, knocking incumbent Ivey Hines off the board.
The Coleman victory over the Ward II incumbent gives the commission two new members heading into 2014, as businesswoman B.J. Fletcher won the Nov. 5 municipal election’s Ward III seat over incumbent Christopher Pike without a runoff.
Hines had eked out a 21-vote victory over Coleman in the Nov. 5 election, but third-place finisher Demetrius Love’s 72-vote total forced a runoff by denying Hines a simple majority.
“I’m feeling really good right now,” Coleman, a medical transport specialist, said Tuesday night. “I plan to introduce myself to the other members of the commission soon and let them know I’m ready and willing to work with them.
“One of my primary objectives is to move this city forward, and we can do that by giving the government back to the citizens.”
Hines, a minister who also does IT work at Marine Corps Logistics Base-Albany, was at a revival Tuesday night and was unavailable for comment.
Intermittent rains throughout the day kept vote totals down, as 377 voters actually went to the polls Tuesday. Elections officials had said Monday that 26 voters in Ward II had cast early ballots, and 71 had requested absentee ballots. Coleman held a slimmer lead over Hines after precincts reported in the Nov. 5 municipal election, but Hines erased the margin with a large advantage in early and absentee ballots.
Coleman accused a woman in the community of intentionally marking ballots for Hines that were intended for Coleman while “assisting” absentee voters in the ward. Elections Supervisor Ginger Nickerson said Monday she’d been informed of the accusation, but said Coleman had chosen not to report the alleged misconduct to the secretary of state’s office.
As he’d done in the municipal election, Coleman took a big lead Tuesday in the Jackson Heights precinct, scoring 126 votes to Hines’ 83. Coleman also scored a narrow 46-40 victory in the Palmyra Precinct. Hines earned the most votes in the ward’s other three precincts, but by negligable margins: 13-11 in both the Sherwood and Phoebe precincts and 19-15 in the Albany Middle precinct.
By 3 p.m., only 175 voters had cast ballots, but a late rush of 202 voters in the last three hours that polls were open increased the total to some 8 percent of the 5,550 registered voters in the ward.
“It’s scary that more people don’t get involved in their local government,” voter Melba Collins, who cast her ballot at the Palmyra Precinct early Tuesday morning, said. “I try to encourage all my employees to vote.”