The race for the open commissioner seat in the Riverhead Fire District was decided after contested ballots were reviewed Monday evening, six days after last Tuesday’s election was declared too close to call.
It was John Tradeski Jr. by two votes.
“It was a hard fought battle, I’m glad it’s over, and I’m looking to move forward and try my best to be an advocate for taxpayers and the Riverhead firefighters,” Mr. Tradeski said.
This marked the third time he’s run for a commissioner seat.
“It’s always been close in the past,” he said. “I think the last time I lost by 10 votes, and this time, I won by two.”
Mr. Tradeski tallied 331 votes to James Carey’s 329, fire district officials said. Mr. Tradeski, 59, will serve a five-year term on the board of fire commissioners. He is a 33-year member of the fire department who is a former chief, captain and “Firefighter of the Year” recipient.
The unofficial election night results showed Mr. Tradeski ahead 328 votes to 324 votes. But there were also 14 write-in votes that were not counted in that tally and 11 challenged votes that were also not counted, according the fire district’s secretary, Bob Zaweski. The write-ins were counted later that night, with Mr. Tradeski picking up three votes and Mr. Carey getting two votes, extending Mr. Tradeski’s lead to 331 to 326.
Of the challenged votes, three were allowed for Mr. Carey, narrowing the margin to two.
The other eight ballots were tossed because the voters didn’t live in the district or weren’t registered, Mr. Zaweski said.
Mr. Carey, 45, has been a volunteer firefighter for 20 years and says he also attends fire commissioner meetings regularly. He retired as a construction foreman in 2008.
Commissioners are elected by the public to run fire districts, which are taxing entities and are different from fire departments. Fire departments are run by the district, and their leaders are chiefs and assistant chiefs who are elected internally and approved by the commissioners.
Mr. Tradeski’s term begins on Jan. 1, 2011, and the district’s organization meeting is scheduled for Jan. 5, 2011. He is replacing longtime commissioner Bill Bilski, who did not seek reelection.