John Salka, left, talks to Tony Berryment at the Wagon Wheel Restaurant in Oenida on election night. (photo by Jason Emerson)
John Salka has apparently defeated incumbent Bill Magee for the State Assembly race in the 121st district by a slim margin, although the incumbent has not conceded the race.
According to the New York State Board of Elections, Salka, a Republican, won by 936 votes over 14-term incumbent, Magee, a Democrat.
“The third time’s a charm,” Salka said early Tuesday night at the Republican election night headquarters at the Wagon Wheel Restaurant in Oneida. “In the morning, we hit the ground running. … we’ve got a lot of work to do.”
Salka has tried twice before to unseat the popular assemblyman and while the current vote totals have him ahead, there are over 3,500 absentee ballots still to be counted, said Magee’s communications director Laura Martino.
Magee left his election night headquarters at The Lincklaen House in Cazenovia without making a decision on whether or not to concede the race, instead deciding to sleep on it, Martino said.
On Wednesday afternoon, Magee told the Republican, “I am not going to do anything until the absentee ballots are counted and processed, so we’ll be waiting for that.”
On his Facebook page, Salka posted a comment early Wednesday morning stating, “Well, it is unofficial at this point and I know enough about the process to know it is not over until the vote is certified, but at this point it looks like we may have prevailed. I am excited and energized to be able to serve the people of the 121st assembly district. There will be many to thank, but most of all my family and my faith. Now, let’s get to work!”
Later in the day, Salka told the Republican that he feels good about how the results look, but he respects Magee’s right to wait for the absentee ballots to be counted.
“This is the culmination of years of hard work, but I’ve had a great time doing it,” he said. “It’s a little surreal; I’ve so hard for this day for so long. I am so excited about getting to Albany and getting to work.”
According to the state board of elections, Salka received 21,974 total votes and Magee received 21,011.
Broken down by county, Salka won Madison County by 1,002 votes and Oneida County by 894 votes, while Magee won Otsego County by 933 votes.
Salka, supervisor for the town of Brookfield and member of the Madison County Board of Supervisors, ran his campaign with the message that state government is broken and corrupt, and sweeping change needs to made by voters in who they send to the state capital as their representatives. He vowed that if elected he would introduce legislation to fight corruption in Albany.
Salka said Tuesday night that he understands that as a freshman assemblyman he will need to listen and learn when he takes office, and he will always fight for his district and be responsive to his constituents.
Jason Emerson is editor of the Cazenovia Republican and Eagle Bulletin newspapers.