It’s official: There will be a recount for the fourth and final City Council at-large seat, after a final tally showed an eight-vote difference between two first-time candidates.
The city Board of Election Commissioners announced Friday evening that it would appoint an outside firm to oversee the recount of all of the city’s 22 wards, in response to petitions filed by both candidates, Alejandra St. Guillen and Julia Mejia.
The elections board hand-counted 68 provisional and absentee ballots Friday that had not been counted before, upping Mejia’s slight lead from five votes to eight.
The petition signatures for the recount still need to be certified as belonging to registered voters. St. Guillen said she collected more than 2,000 signatures, though she needed only 50 signatures from each of the city’s 22 wards.
But the verification process officially marks the beginning of a citywide recount that could take weeks, and will resolve the closest known race in City Council history.
“Our campaign had 80 fired-up volunteers hitting the pavement to reach this goal, and we couldn’t be more proud of their efforts,” said Jessica Bahena, campaign manager for St. Guillen. “We look forward to the recount process, and making sure every vote is counted and every voice is heard.”
The last known recount occurred in 2001, when Felix D. Arroyo placed sixth for one of the four at-large seats, only 33 votes behind Rob Consalvo. After the recount, Arroyo led Consalvo by 68 votes, and a year later he was appointed to the body to fill the vacancy created when Francis “Mickey” Roache left to become Suffolk County register of deeds.
With the appointment, Arroyo became the city’s first Latino at-large candidate.
Both Mejia and St. Guillen are looking to become the first Latina appointed to the council.