Election 2021: DeSantis, Peters lead unofficial voting in Gloversville


Gloversville Mayor Vince DeSantis speaks of the new Glove City Lofts set to be constructed at the former Frontier Call Center on Church Street adjacent to Gloversville City Hall on May 25.

GLOVERSVILLE — Unofficial vote totals Tuesday night showed incumbent Mayor Vince DeSantis with a 96-vote lead over challenger Republican William Rowback Jr.

DeSantis had received 1,094 votes to Rowback’s 998, according to the unofficial vote totals from the Fulton County Board of Elections. DeSantis appears to have received his highest vote total among the city’s six wards in the 5th Ward where he received 275 total votes. Rowback was strongest in the 3rd Ward where he received 188 votes.

Fulton County Democratic Election Commissioner Gerry Ryan said he’s not sure how many absentee ballots may still be in play for Gloversville. He said the elections board has about 600 absentee ballots yet to be counted for all of Fulton County and another 500 absentee ballot applications that could still be returned to the Board of Elections, provided they are postmarked by Tuesday.

Ryan said an unofficial total of 8,442 people voted in the 2021 local elections, about 24% of registered voters in the county.

Rowback’s Republican ticket-mate retired sheriff deputy Wayne Peters appears to have received the most votes of anyone running for office in the city of Gloversville with 1,125 votes, putting him well-ahead of Gloversville Party candidate Arthur Simonds who received 721 votes in the unofficial count.

DeSantis’ other Gloversville Party running mates who were also Democrats appeared to have done better than Simonds, a Republican who also represents the 2nd Ward on the Common Council.

First Ward Councilwoman Marcia Weiss had a strong lead of 142 to 86 against the “Back to Basics” independent party candidate Joseph F. DeMatties, Sr., an employee of the city’s Department of Public Works.

Third Ward Councilwoman Betsy Batchelor was leading her Republican opponent Dale “Hank” McGrath by an unofficial count of 247 to 180.

Incumbent Republican 5th Ward Councilman Jay Zarrelli had 269 unofficial votes, giving him likely an insurmountable lead over write-in votes for his ward where there were 56 of them, most of them likely going to former Leader-Herald photographer Bill Trojan.

John Nellis, of 311 N. Main St., voted at the Gloversville Senior Center polling place Tuesday. He declined to say whether he voted for incumbent Mayor Vince DeSantis or his Republican challenger William Rowback Jr., but in his opinion both men were good choices. He said he’s known Rowback since they were both barely knee-high to his current height.

“Bill’s a pretty upfront guy, pretty much an upfront guy, and I admire Mr. DeSantis,” Nellis said. “So, I had a good choice either way, because they both mean well for the city.”

Nellis said in his opinion everyone needs to vote in order to preserve democracy in America, but after the voting is done people should stop criticizing each other over politics.

“We’ve got to stop beating each other up, getting on each other’s cases for who we vote for,” Nellis said. “We’ve got to stop beating each other up. That’s what the government wants. They’re just looking for reasons to take our rights away, and we’ve got to stop doing this. We’re fellow Americans. We’re not each other’s enemies.”

Levi Illsley and his wife Meagan Illsley, who said they live on Northern Terrace, declined to share their voting choices but said they didn’t like the conduct of the Common Council in the days leading up to the election.

“I thought it was very chaotic,” Levi Illsley said. “I think there are certain individuals on the council who are very hyped up the way they are. I wish it had been a more civil process, without so much backstabbing on both sides.”

One DeSantis voter, John Yorks, of 338 Bleecker St., explained his choice.

“Because I feel like DeSantis is better than Bill Rowback and that Bill Rowback would be a real problem for this city — the way Rowback seems to get into trouble, and the fact that he seems to be a loose cannon,” Yorks said. “So, I voted for Vince DeSantis, because he at least seems to be trying to do things for the city.”

Joan Handy, a state worker who lives in the 6th Ward, was another DeSantis supporter Tuesday.

“Because I don’t trust the other candidate,” she said. “And I think DeSantis has done a pretty good job, without a lot to work with.”

Aaron Scribner, a resident of the 5th Ward on Alexander Street, said he’s a member of the Sir William Johnson Volunteer Fire Department and has known William Rowback Jr. through the world of volunteer firefighting for several years. He said he supports Rowback.

“I’ve actually talked to Bill [Rowback] on numerous occasions. I’ve seen what he’s done around the city, and what he could do,” Scribner said. “I’m really hoping he helps get us better jobs in the city, help get businesses back in the city, just the creation of more jobs for people looking for them.”

Scribner said that, although he is a registered Republican, he also voted for write-in candidate for the 5th Ward council seat former Leader-Herald photographer Bill Trojan and not incumbent 5th Ward Republican Councilman Jay Zarrelli.

“I’ve seen some of [Bill Trojan’s] ideas, and he’s actually turned around Kingsboro golf course,” Scribner said. 

In an unprecedented move, both city Republican Party Chairwoman Karen Smith and Fulton County Republican Chairwoman Sue McNeil endorsed Trojan’s write-in campaign against the incumbent Republican Zarrelli after Zarrelli confirmed, along with four other members of the common council and the minutes kept from the Oct. 15 budget meeting, that Rowback was shown to have voted against hiring two additional police officers and did not support a motion to hire four police officers.

In an interview with the Leader-Herald on Oct. 17 Rowback had said he had voted to hire the two police officers, but would have preferred to hire four new officers. Rowback later admitted that, “maybe I misspoke myself.”

Sandra Littlejohn, of 7 Dean St. in the 1st Ward, said that although she is a Republican, and normally always votes for only Republicans, she decided to vote for DeSantis and the members of his Gloversville Party.

“Because I didn’t like the other guy,” she said of Rowback. “I think DeSantis is trying hard to make changes in Gloversville and improve the area. I like the Gloversville Party because it’s bi-partisan.”

Daniel and Kelly Hickok, residents of Spruce Street in the 1st Ward, said they both voted for Rowback because they’re worried about too much government spending.

Erik and Melinda Bush, of South Kingsboro Avenue in the 1st Ward, said they don’t know that much about local politics, but they support the Republican Party.

“I’m actually not super-informed, but the Democratic Party worries me, the direction it’s going as far as woke-politics and that kind of thing,” Erik Bush said.

“I voted for Arthur Simonds because the lady he was going against actually wouldn’t help us with a matter that we had,” Melinda Bush said.

Melinda was then surprised to find out Simonds wasn’t running against 1st Ward Councilwoman Marcia Weiss, a Democrat. Simonds, a Republican who represents the 2nd Ward on the Common Council, was the Gloversville Party candidate running against Republican Wayne Peters, a retired sheriff’s deputy.

“I just wasn’t going to vote for her or whatever,” she said.

Erik Bush was uncertain whether he voted for Simonds or Peters.

“I’m embarrassed to say, I don’t remember,” he said.

By Jason Subik

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