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Write-in candidate wins bid for Highway Superintendent

WEVERTOWN It was a dramatic end to one of Johnsburgs more memorable local elections. While the final vote totals will not be known until Nov. 12, the next highway superintendent for the town of Johnsburg will ultimately be Dan Hitchcock of Bakers Mills. In what has been characterized as one of Warren Countys strongest write-in campaigns Republican nominee Fred Comstock conceded the race to Hitchcock last week after observing the ballot counting process and considerable voter support for his opponent. The final voting-machine count as of Friday, Nov. 7, showed Hitchcock claiming 305 votes and Comstock recorded 329. At this writing, Warren County is still in the process of recording more than 100 absentee ballots. In contention are more than 90 write-in votes for Hitchcock that were not counted due to technicalities such as an incorrect spelling of his name. The races third candidate, Roger Mosher, received 67 votes. While he may be proven as the ultimate winner in the race, Comstock stands behind his decision to concede. On Friday I found out that really Dan had a lot more votes than I did before they started to throw them out [due to technicalities], he said. I didnt want to win just because they threw out his votes. I dont feel its right - just because some people didnt write the right thing down as far as Im concerned every one of those was a vote for Dan. He got more than me and he should rightfully have that position. Comstock admits that it was a hard decision to make but he could not imagine doing anything else. He deserves to be there, he added. Comstock plans to continue his career working for the Johnsburg Highway Department and says that a second bid for superintendent is highly unlikely. Town Supervisor Sterling Goodspeed is supportive of Comstocks decision and looks forward to finally filling the vacant position. You had two very strong candidates and two very good guys, he said. They both obviously garnered a lot of votes and had a lot of support. I think it ended in an appropriate and fair manner. Goodspeed also remains hopeful that the town has finally realized closure on what has been a controversial issue since the resignation of the former superintendent, Curtis Richards, earlier this year. Im also very pleased to know that Dan and Fred sat down and had a good discussion, he added. I think it speaks well for the future of the highway department - that you can have a race like this, that people can do the right things, and then when its all over with, everybody can get together and do whats right for the department. Despite the turn of events and frustration over votes being rejected due to seven different variations of his name, Hitchcock is pleased with the result. I wish it didnt come down this way but I am happy to have won the election, he said. Im anxious to start. Due to a recent town board resolution to immediately appoint the certified winner of the election - Hitchcock may have to wait for the next regular board meeting to assume his post. The ballots will be read on Wednesday so if I wind up getting the highest number of votes then I will be able to take over the job immediately, he added. If not it will be after the next town board meeting. Either way, Hitchcock plans to get to work immediately to review the towns equipment and get to know the men he will soon be leading. I know the town would like to pave two miles of road next year and I think thats great if the money is there, he said. Theres a lot to go over with the job and the budget and Im anxious to get in before the first big snow hits. Since the election only fills the remainder of former Superintendent Richards term, Hitchcock will face re-election in Nov. of 2009 for a full term.

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