ELIZABETHTOWN - The count of absentee ballots has upheld Kristy Sprague's victory in the race for Essex County District Attorney.
Sprague finished with a 125-vote lead over incumbent Julie Garcia after Essex County Board of Elections officials completed their count of more than 850 absentee ballots Nov. 16.
With more than 12,000 votes counted on election night, Sprague, who ran on the Republican and Independent lines, held just a 75-vote lead over Garcia, who ran as a Democrat.
Tabulation of absentee ballots began Nov. 12 under the close scrutiny of County Attorney Daniel Manning and lawyers representing both Garcia and Sprague. Both candidates picked up hundreds more votes, but as Sprague's lead slowly grew, Garcia ultimately admitted defeat.
"Kristy has won the race, and I congratulate her and wish her success," said Garcia. "I wish her well in her new position."
Sprague said she was very pleased with the results and how the absentee votes followed the typical trend of mirroring results on election day.
Both candidates expressed satisfaction with the counting process.
"It went pretty smoothly," said Sprague, "I thought once the attorneys were involved, things would be pretty contentious, but everyone was very congenial. I think it was a good process."
"It was an extremely close race, and I'm satisfied with the results," said Garcia.
Sprague will take office Jan. 1. Until then, she's hoping to put the elections behind her and prepare for the next four years as District Attorney.
"I look forward to fulfilling the promises I made to the voters and making some positive changes in the county," she said.
One of the most immediate changes Sprague expects to make is in the way the office will handle its cases.
"First and foremost, I think we need to take a look at the allocation of cases to the staff," said Sprague, noting her desire to be a hands-on prosecutor. "We'll look at the staffing and what we, as a team, can do in the future."