David Clegg Narrowly Nixes District Attorney Race

A month after election day, Democratic candidate David Clegg won the election for Ulster County District Attroney (DA) by a 77 point difference. 

In order to figure out who won the election, the two candidates for Ulster County DA were Clegg and Republican Michael Kavanagh, appeared in the state supreme court twice over 283 disputable ballots.

The race for DA was in the hands of the New York state supreme court, who had to determine the validity of the uncounted votes. On Dec. 3, Kavanagh gained five votes while Clegg gained four, still giving Clegg a 44-vote lead. However, the candidates had to return to court on Friday, Dec. 6, to allow State Supreme Court Justice Richard McNally to decide how to handle the remaining ballots in question.

The Dec. 6 court appearance still did not present a true winner. McNally had considered only 40 out of 273 challenged ballots and ultimately determined that 20 of those considered could be counted.

For nine years, Clegg served as a part-time Ulster County Assistant Public Defender and serves as a board member of Family of Woodstock, helped found Ulster County Habitat for Humanity and served on the Ulster County Board of Health.

Kavanagh serves on the Ulster County Older Persons Empowerment Executive Committee, he is the Supervisor of the District Attorney’s Animal Abuse Bureau and served as counsel to the Ulster County Legislature.

According to Ulster County law § 700(1), the DA must “conduct all prosecutions for crimes and offenses cognizable by the courts of the county for which he or she shall have been elected or appointed.” 

Ulster County Republican Commissioner of Elections Thomas Turco told The Daily Freeman that the ballots were questioned for a variety of different reasons which include “questions about whether an individual’s signature on an envelope matched that in the Board of Elections roll books and whether there were identifying marks on the envelope or the ballot itself.”

According to The Daily Freeman, “several” of the affidavits allowed by McNally were from SUNY New Paltz students. Ulster County Democratic Commissioner of Elections Ashley Dittus told The Daily Freeman that Kavanagh’s attorneys challenged some of the SUNY New Paltz ballots “because the students resided in a different dormitory than the ones listed on election rolls.”

On Nov. 5, Election Day, Kavanagh had three more votes than Clegg. However, when the counting of absentee and affidavit was completed, Clegg ended up leading Kavanagh by 45 votes.  

Avatar photo
About Nikki Donohue 88 Articles
Nikki Donohue is a fourth-year double major in history and journalism. This is her sixth semester with The Oracle. She has worked as a News Copy Editor and an Assistant Copy Editor.